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Kotaro IIZAWA's essay

Photographers of Japan


Vol.9 "Hitoshi FUGO 1947- -- the unusual world of works which fuses thought and technique"


by Kotaro Iizawa (Critic and historian of Photography)

Hitoshi Fugo was born in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1947 but was raised in Yonezawa City, Yamagata Prefecture from the age of 3. Following his graduation from Nihon University College of Art Department of Photography in 1970, he spent 3 years as an assistant to Eikoh Hosoe, then in 1973 began work as an independent freelance photographer.

 

Just as Fugo was experiencing his adolescence in the late 1960s-early 70s, the photography scene in Japan was also undergoing a period of significant change, including major developments in “snapshot” and “personal photographs” by figures such as Moriyama Daido, Nakahira Takuma, and Araki Nobuyoshi who influenced many of their contemporaries. However, Fugo kept a certain distance from those trends and aimed construct his own precise world of works. His thorough study of photography and the dark room completed at school and as an assistant to Hosoe surely helped him in this pursuit.

 

During his residence in Paris and in New York, Fugo drew attention with his ambitious solo exhibitions which showcased his style with its strong expressions of interiority and spirituality; the exhibitions he held include “Yuei” (Gallery Shunju, 1976) and “Anten” (Photo Gallery International, 1982). That world of Fugo’s works took a great leap in 1984 with his exhibition “FLYING FRYING PAN” at Zeit Foto Salon, as well as with the subsequent publication of the photo collection “FLYING FRYING PAN” (1997, Shazow Kobo). In this series Fugo reconstructs magnificent, space-like images from the familiar, everyday frying pan; his photos bring to mind the shining stars of the Milky Way; the revolution of the sun and moon. It should be fair to call "FLYING FRYING PAN" a masterpiece that fuses Fugo's brilliant thinking and excellent technical skill.

 

The precise, viscous nature of Fugo's work is well demonstrated in "ON THE CIRCLE", the series first presented in 2009 at Ginza Nikon Salon and published as a photo collection by Akaaka in 2012. Near Fugo's house is a water tank approximately 6 meters in diameter - various figures are recalled on the concrete lid, coming and going along the border of reality and fantasy... this is the strange performance recorded in this series. It was a heavy work that took shape over a long period of time, the result of ideas which had the chance to simmer down to a final form.

 

This time, Toki-no-Wasuremono will present “BODY AND STEEL BAR”; it can be regarded as a continuation of ON THE CIRCLE, in the sense of it being a performance which unfolds in a single fixed space. Various things, people, and animals sit atop or hang off of a 2 meters tall, 1.8 meters wide steel bar custom ordered by Fugo for this series. Unlike his previous series, the action of this one is improvisational, and has somewhere an air of humor. As he turns 70 this year, Fugo is becoming more amicable and his desire to create still rises; free and unfettered, he still aims to be a challenger in unexplored fields. Perhaps he will use this series as a stepping stone on the way to the birth of the next.


(Kotaro Iizawa)


Backnumber

Vol.16 "Ogawa Takayuki (1938 - 2008) − explorer of “shape” through photography"
Vol.15 "Kitai Kazuo - Capturing “a scene I once saw…”"
Vol.14 "Kazama Kensuke"
Vol.13 "Narahara Ikko - Double Vision"
Vol.12 "Q Ei and photo dessin"
Vol.11 "Fukuhara Shinzo 1883-1948 -- Japanese Landscape Photography"
Vol.10 "The city observer’s gaze Akihiko HIRASHIMA (1946~)"

Vol.9 "Hitoshi FUGO 1947- -- The unusual world of works which fuses thought and technique"
"ETSURO ISHIHARA - THE EXTRAORDINARY GALLERIST WHO TURNED PHOTOGRAPHY TO ART"
Vol.8 "Iwata NAKAYAMA (1895-1949)"

Vol.7 "KISEI KOBAYASHI (1968-)"
Vol.6 "Tamiko NISHIMURA (1948-)"
Vol.5 "Shigeo GOCHO (1946-83)"
Vol.4 "Shoji UEDA -Locality open to the world-"
Vol.3 "Yu OGATA, ICHIRO OGATA ONO -Dyslexia's picture of the world-"
Vol.2 "Eikoh Hosoe's theatrical imagination"
Vol.1 "maroon" -- Whereabouts of new works by Hiroshi Osaka



Kotaro IIZAWA

Born 1954 in Miyagi prefecture, Japan. Iizawa is a Japanese photography critic, historian of photography, and magazine editor.
He studied photography in Nihon University, graduating in 1977. He obtained his doctorate at University of Tsukuba in 1984. With his trilogy, "Geijutsu shashin to sono jidai (Art Photography and its Time)", "Shashin ni kaere (Go back to the photography)" and "Toshi no shisen (Glance of the City)" published in 1986, 1988 and 1989, he stood out and became the representive photography researcher of the early 20th century. Iizawa founded magazine "Deja-vu" in 1990 and was its editor in chief until 1994. He has been taking part as a judge in public competitions "Shashin-shinseiki (New Generation Photography)" and "Hitotsubo-ten (3.3m² Exhibition)", since their beginning, and through these competitions made the "girly photo" trend in the 1990s.

Reknowned as Nobuyuki Araki researcher. In 1996, he was awarded the Suntory Arts Award for his book "Shashin bijutsukan e yokoso (Welcome to the Photography Museum)". Also, he is an enthusiast for mushrooms and published books such as "Sekai no kinoko kitte (World's Mushroom Stamps)" and "Aruku kinoko (Walking Mushrooms)".
He was a part-time instructor at the Tokyo College of Photography in 1981, teaching Photography Artist Research. In 2004 and 2008, he was a part-time lecturer at Faculty of Liberal Arts, University of Tokyo, teaching history of photography in Japan.



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