Lisson Gallery

Financial Times interview with Hiroshi Sugimoto on "making some of the medium’s defining images"

26 April 2024

“My work will be on the ceiling — I feel like Michelangelo,” says artist Hiroshi Sugimoto, describing his work at Venice’s newest space for contemporary art, the Palazzo Diedo, which opens next week. Restored by the Berggruen Arts & Culture foundation, the 18th-century building will have commissions from 11 artists on permanent display. Sugimoto’s seven by six metre ceiling work, a close-up of an electrical current, comes from the Lightning Fields series, part of his investigation into frozen time; it has been printed on fabric then stretched and suspended for the palazzo. “If you look up, it’s as if you’ve been hit by lightning,” smiles Sugimoto, his contained demeanour replaced with childish delight.

He gets more than a ceiling, though. On show elsewhere in the building are nine of his latest Opticks works, for which he splits light through a prism that he has designed himself, based on the principles of Isaac Newton; he then photographs its coloured projections, creating mesmeric abstractions. (Works from this series will be on show at Lisson Gallery in New York from May 2.)

It seems surprising that the artist, who has described himself as “the last black and white, conventional, traditional photographer”, should have plunged so deeply into the full spectrum. “As I get towards the end of my life, I am finally turning to colour,” Sugimoto says when we meet in Paris in early April. It is one of many references he makes to dying, despite being a sprightly 76. Conversely, he also describes his recent survey at London’s Hayward Gallery, now in its next iteration in Beijing’s UCCA museum, as “a mid-career retrospective”, with a gleam in his eye.

He is certainly not slowing down. Before his palazzo show came the opening of Staged, an exhibition of his photographs of Alberto Giacometti’s sculptures, held in the jewel-like rooms of the Institut Giacometti in Montparnasse (until June 23). Giacometti is not the only modern master Sugimoto has been associated with: his Seascapes series, ethereal images of where the ocean meets the sky, is often compared to Mark Rothko’s paintings and they were shown together at Pace gallery’s landmark London opening in 2012.

Read more via Financial Times here.

'Hiroshi Sugimoto: Optical Allusion', Lissong Gallery, New York (2 May - 2 August 2024)

'Hiroshi Sugimoto', UCCA Beijing, China (23 March - 23 June 2024)

Financial Times interview with Hiroshi Sugimoto on "making some of the medium’s defining images"
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