I am a great fan of Japanese photographers. Notice I did not say Japanese photography. In the western mind that term usually conjures up images of blurry, contrasty, black and white urban street scenes. I certainly am not a fan of all Japanese photographers but only those with a certain sensibility which jives with my sense of the world.
One of these photographers is Toshio Shibata. I have been a fan ever since my photo editing days. Early on, I brought in his works on Dams to illustrate a story in Natural History magazine. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out. Ever since then though, I have been collecting books of his work, from Dam to Landscape 2. Shibata is known for his large format works and huge prints (way before the Duselldorf school made it de riguer). His work is mainly black and white, but starting in the early 2000’s, he has started loading his 8 x 10 camera with color film and making large Type C prints. Wow, they are eye catching! Nominally his subject is landscape. But, what he does with his pictures is give you a sense of how the Japanese people have held up and held back the land in this mountainous country. The harmony and sculptural beauty of these public works can be breath taking when photographed by Shibata.
The Laurence Miller gallery in New York is currently having a show of Shibata’s color work all dealing with water. The show is called (wait for it…) “Water Colors”. It’s an eye catching and elegant show. But what really caught my eye was a set of small, 4″ x 5″ prints. As some know, I am drawn to small works of art. There is an elegant secret like sensibility. Shibata’s were amazing as can be witnessed by the image above (and if I did it correctly it should be just about life size on the screen). There is something about the size that draws you in and asks you to share the quiet revelations and epiphanies.