FUJIFILM SQUARE Photo History Museum Exhibition
Two Demonstrators of the Alchemy of Photography

Awakening Photographs: Michiko Kon + Tokihiro Sato

  • < Part 1: Michiko Kon—Reviving Objects >
    Octopus + Melon, 1989
    Photograph by Michiko Kon   ©Michiko Kon, Courtesy of PGI

  • < Part 1: Michiko Kon—Reviving Objects >
    Salmon + Flatfish + High heel, 1987
    Photograph by Michiko Kon   ©Michiko Kon, Courtesy of PGI

  • < Part 1: Michiko Kon—Reviving Objects >
    Round herring + Silk hat, 1994
    Photograph by Michiko Kon   ©Michiko Kon, Courtesy of PGI

  • < Part 1: Michiko Kon—Reviving Objects >
    The red swallow-tailed coat, 1994
    Photograph by Michiko Kon   ©Michiko Kon, Courtesy of PGI

  • < Part 2: Tokihiro Sato—Breathing Lights >
    #275 Koto-ku Aomi, 1996 From the series Photo-Respiration
    Photograph by Tokihiro Sato   ©Tokihiro Sato

  • < Part 2: Tokihiro Sato—Breathing Lights >
    #1, 1988 From the series Photo-Respiration
    Photograph by Tokihiro Sato   ©Tokihiro Sato

  • < Part 2: Tokihiro Sato—Breathing Lights >
    #323 Yotsukura, 1996 From the series Photo-Respiration
    Photograph by Tokihiro Sato   ©Tokihiro Sato

  • < Part 2: Tokihiro Sato—Breathing Lights >
    #223 Flag of the European Union, Berlin, 1994 From the series Photo-Respiration
    Photograph by Tokihiro Sato   ©Tokihiro Sato

Fujifilm Square was closed due to weather condition, but has now reopened.

The FUJIFILM SQUARE Photo History Museum is pleased to present an exhibition of works by Michiko Kon and Tokihiro Sato, two photographers recognized for their unique visions. The exhibition runs from September 1 to December 27, 2019.

Invented in France, the art of photography was introduced to Japan in 1848. Since then, Japan has developed a unique culture of photography. Japanese photographic expression matured in the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1980s, museums and galleries specializing in photography were established, and by the late 1980s, modern art museums also started to pay attention to works that explored photography. Michiko Kon and Tokihiro Sato emerged as distinct photographers around that time. Today, these two photographers are working extensively in Japan and overseas, producing work that is highly acclaimed from the dual aspects of fine art and photography.

After studying printmaking at Sokei Academy of Fine Art and Design, Michiko Kon (b. 1955) switched to photography. She embarked on her professional career as an artist in 1985. Her unique style is without parallel: she creates objects by meticulously combining vegetables, fish, fruit, and other foods with materials such as hats and high heels. She then photographs her creations and prints them on photographic paper. The artist's imagination manifests itself in singular objects that provoke the viewer. The oddly fascinating works, as exemplified by her masterpiece EAT, are still evolving today.

After studying sculpture at the bachelor's and master's levels at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Tokyo University of the Arts, Tokihiro Sato (b. 1957) turned from sculpture to photography in the late 1980s. In his creative work, Sato consistently explores the principles of photography. For example, in the Photo—Respiration series, his tour de force, he moves around in front of the camera, holding a penlight or mirror to reflect light toward the lens and using long exposure times to capture the space and the traces of light. Brimming with inquisitiveness and an experimental spirit, Sato's work knows no boundaries but continues to evolve as he incorporates new techniques.

The two artists share common ground. They both came to photographic expression from other forms of art. They capture three-dimensional objects or physical movement and transfer them to a two-dimensional medium, that is, photographic paper. Their final form of the work is the print, which is recognized as photographic art. Their mode of expression is photographic work bordering on fine art, but, as if in inverse proportion, they also draw closer to the principles and essence of photography. They use original methods to refine the essence of photography in the act of creation—surely, this is the alchemy of photography.

We have put together an exhibition that features both early and recent works by both photographers. Part 1 of the exhibition features works by Michiko Kon while Part 2 is dedicated to Tokihiro Sato. Using their own unique techniques to continually explore photography, Michiko Kon and Tokihiro Sato demonstrate the alchemy of photography. As digital photography is becoming dominant and photographic expression is increasingly complicated and diversified, this exhibition attempts to rethink the nature of photography through the works of these two artists.


Profile

Michiko Kon (1955—)
Michiko Kon was born in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture in 1955. After graduating from the printmaking program at Sokei Academy of Fine Art and Design, she studied photography at Tokyo Photographic College. Her professional career began in earnest in 1985 with the solo exhibition Still Life. Two years later, Kon was a recipient of the third Higashikawa New Photographer Award. In 1991, she was presented with the 16th Kimura Ihei Photography Award for her solo exhibition EAT Recent Works (Photo Gallery International [presently PGI], Tokyo, 1990). As well as holding many solo exhibitions in Japan and abroad, Kon has also participated in many group shows. Her works are in the collections at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles; and elsewhere.

Tokihiro Sato (1957—)
Tokihiro Sato was born in Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture in 1957. In 1981, he graduated from the Department of Sculpture, Faculty of Fine Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts. In 1983, he earned a master's degree in sculpture from the Graduate School of Fine Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts. In 1990, Sato was presented with the sixth Higashikawa New Photographer Award. In 1993, he went to France for an artist residency after winning the Mercedes-Benz Art Scope Award. The next year, he was in Britain for another artist residency funded by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. In 2015, Sato was presented with the 65th Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology's Art Encouragement Prize. As well as holding many solo exhibitions in Japan and abroad, Sato has also participated in many group shows. His works are held in the collections at the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum; the Museum of Modern Art, Saitama; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and elsewhere. Currently, Sato is professor at the Department of Intermedia Art, Faculty of Fine Arts, at Tokyo University of the Arts.


Title FUJIFILM SQUARE Photo History Museum Exhibition
Awakening Photographs: Michiko Kon + Tokihiro Sato
Part 1: Michiko Kon—Reviving Objects
Part 2: Tokihiro Sato—Breathing Lights
Period Part 1: September 1 — October 29, 2019
Part 2: October 30 — December 27, 2019
Open every day from 10:00 to 19:00 (last admission 18:50)
Number of works approx. 20 works/part
Venue The Photo History Museum at FUJIFILM SQUARE (Tokyo Midtown West)
Admission Free
Organized by FUJIFILM Corporation
In cooperation with PGI
Supported by Minato City Board of Education
Planning by Photo Classic

<Events during the exhibition>

The photographers Michiko Kon and Tokihiro Sato will talk about their work, the creative process, and recent activities.

Gallery talk by Michiko Kon, the photographer

Date Sat. September 28, 2019, 14:00—14:30 / 16:00—16:30
Sat. October 19, 2019, 14:00—14:30 / 16:00—16:30
Venue The Photo History Museum at FUJIFILM SQUARE
Admission Free
* No registration required
* No seats available

Gallery talk by Tokihiro Sato, the photographer

Date Sat. November 16, 2019, 14:00—14:30 / 16:00—16:30
Sat. December 14, 2019, 14:00—14:30 / 16:00—16:30
Venue The Photo History Museum at FUJIFILM SQUARE
Admission Free
* No registration required
* No seats available

  • In 1991, the Association for Corporate Support of the Arts founded these awards, which recognize highly beneficial projects by corporations and corporate foundations for the support of the arts, with the aim of encouraging corporate patronage of artistic projects and increasing public interest in these activities.
  • The awardees are decided on the basis of an evaluation that covers the company's ingenuity and making use of its managerial resources, the involvement of the company in the arts, culture and the wider community, the company's attitude to continuing and expanding the activities, and the activities' degree of importance in contributing to the arts and wider culture.
  • This year's awards, entitled “This is MECENAT 2018”, attracted 152 entrants. A town of third-party experts selected a total of seven awards, namely, the Grand Mécénat Award, five Awards for excellence and the Award Granted by the Commissioner for Cultural Affairs.

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