Sketches of the Sun


May 03 – June 01, 2013

Curated by Rie Sakaguchi
Artist: Meisai Okamoto

Opening Reception: Friday, May 3, 6-8PM

ISE Cultural Foundation is pleased to present solo exhibition “Sketches of the Sun” by Meisai Okamoto curated by Rie Sakaguchi at the Front Space.

Meisai Okamoto (b. 1971 in Kochi Prefecture, Japan) has been taking photographs by connecting a digital camera to a black box (pinhole box) since 2006. For more than ten years he has been living in the Sawada Mansion built by the Sawada family members who were self-taught amateurs in construction. In creating photographs he was stimulated and inspired by Mr. and Mrs. Kanou Sawada and their family.
The mansion is a 70 meters (230 feet) wide apartment building with six stories above ground and one below. Initially he took photographs in his apartment room by transforming it into a black box (pinhole box) by drawing dark curtains around the room. Then he gradually went outdoors. Outdoors he sits or lies flat inside a cardboard box in different sizes up to 5m (W) x 5m (L) x 3.5m (H) [16'5" (W) x 16'5" (L) x 11'6" (H)]. And for many hours he strains his eyes to the light shining in through a hole 2mm (1/12″) to 6mm (1/4″) in diameter. Using a digital camera Meisai Okamoto captures on photographic printing paper objects sketched in his head and required sunlight that is strong in tropical Kochi, where he was born and raised. He explains that rather than seeking a documentary-like aspect of a photograph or a transcript of objects, he simply collects the sunlight shining in through a small pinhole into a dark box. In a way he is a “collector of light of the Sun”. As a result, the round Earth as we know it appears a square universe in Meisai Okamoto’s photograph. Just as if the Sawada Mansion turns into a dark box (pinhole box) and Meisai Okamoto living in it becomes a camera…

Meisai Okamoto endlessly challenges creating photographs of his ideas, which is exemplified by scanned photographs of the Sawada Mansion in the size of 5m (16’5″) x 10m (32’10″).
In Meisai Okamoto’s photographs I can feel and catch a glimpse of the ideas and behaviors of modern painting, for example, by Georges Seurat and Wassily Kandinsky. I imagine that Meisai Okamoto might be feeling the same way albeit unconsciously. The title of this exhibition “Sketches of the Sun” testifies that his photographs are painting-like. Having observed his personality and artworks for over 10 years, I consider Meisai Okamoto a new type of artist who, on no account, can and should be appreciated by the category confined to photography. How do you view, and what do you see in, Meisai Okamoto’s photographs? I would like to raise a question…
For Meisai Okamoto, this exhibition at Ise Cultural Foundation Gallery is the very first outside of Japan.
Rie Sakaguchi dedicates this curatorial project to Mr. Nobuo Yamanaka, the pinhole photographer, who passed away during his visit to our loft in New York in 1982 after participating in the Bienaare de Paris.

Rie Sakaguchi

Image: vujade (detail), 2009-2013, 2’9″x5’5″, pinhole camera (11″x9″x8″)

Meisai Okamoto

Rie Sakaguchi

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