Depicting the World with a Zen Mind

Observing and Depicting the World with a Zen Mind

LOOKING over his collection of photos and prints that were exhibited at the “Tokyo” photography exhibition at the Shanghai Art Museum, most of Suzuki’s work focuses on large-scale ongoing construction projects in big cities. The lighting gives his subjects an imposing, dignified presence and a somewhat solemn appearance. These images convey a rich sense of structure and a gloomy, downcast mood, using an overwhelmingly black-andwhite palette. Amid this jumble infrastructure, however, Suzuki presents us with a simple vision. His critical, philosophizing eye exudes a certain aura that stares down the urban clamor of the city and lurches across the frame at the viewer – something that prompted me quite naturally to think of the gaze that often crops up in our conversations. Suzuki is an artist who has an excellent eye. This facility almost certainly owes itself to his long-standing collaborations with Junko Koshino, as well as his keen interest in the humanities, the great issues that confront society today, and the teachings of Eastern philosophy.

I believe I have some understanding of Suzuki’s artistic values and experiences. After looking closely at his work, I feel an even greater respect for the way in which he immerses himself in the world of fashion, donning its gay apparel without being contaminated by it, freely pulling back to keep a measured distance from the riotous color of the fashion runway. Heading towards the seething commotion of the construction sites in the metropolis, he looks up at these giant megastructures suspended in the sky, the thundering roar of massive machinery, crane rails buffeted by the wind and rain, a multitude of hanging chains that seem to pour down in torrents, phalanxes of workers silently building the foundations, and freshly sawn steel beams and girders. With his inimitable gaze, Suzuki trains his lens on those things that most of us turn a blind eye to – neglected scenes, objects, even vestigial marks and traces. These monochromatic scenes have filtered out the pomp and vanity of the world, leaving behind a landscape of vestigial narratives and stories.

Perhaps the reason why I find myself so moved by Suzuki’s work is because we both come from cultures that are based on Chinese ideograms and characters, which allow us to identify with a detached, Zen-like view of the world. Suzuki’s essentially Buddhist approach to making images, charged with the burden of depicting the true nature of this transient world, stir my heartstrings and elicit my sympathy. In a sense, his vision and ambition coincide with a certain state of mind advocated by traditional Chinese aesthetics: “strive to attain an ultimate, dazzling beauty – and then revert to dullness.” tj

禅のこころ、禅のまなざしで 世を見て万物を得る

鈴木氏の写真集と上海美術館で開催された写真展《TOKYO 東京》を拝見する と、多くが大都市で施工中の工事現場をテーマにしていることが分かる。荘重な光と影、冷たくも厳かな形状、多様な構図、控えめなトーン、モノクロの世界。煩雑の中に簡素を、 喧騒の中に境地を見いだすという明晰な考察か らの一種の批判的な気を感じた。また、我々がよく議論している「眼力」をも想起させた。鈴木氏のすばらしい「眼力」はコシノ氏との長期にわたるコラボレーションによるものだけでなく、人文学や社会の壮大なテーマへの関心、東洋哲学への深い理解によりもたらされたといえる。

鈴木氏の芸術観や経歴を理解している私は、氏の作品を見ると敬服させられることが多々あ る。ファッション業界に身を投じながらも染ま ることなく華やかなステージから飛び出し、大都会の工事現場の喧騒に赴く。高くそびえる建築物やとどろきをあげる機械、風雨の中のク レーン、激しく垂れ下がるチェーン、黙々と作業する作業員たち、切断された鋼材......。独自のまなざしで普通は見向きもしない光景や現象、痕跡に注目する。鈴木氏のモノクロを基調とした画面からは世の軽々しくも派手やかな世界は排斥され、情景や形跡というストーリーだけが残る。

私が鈴木氏の作品に魅せられるのは、恐らくと もに漢字を用いる文化圏の人間だからであろ う。特に禅のまなざしから世の万物を冷静に見つめ、禅の心を通して万物を得ることには共感を覚える。結果、現世のリアルなイメージがやきついた氏の作品は人々の心の琴線に触れ、共鳴をよぶのだろう。鈴木氏のヴィジョンと探究心は、中国の伝統美学が提唱する「絢爛を極め 簡素に帰る」という境地を暗喩しているといえよう。tj

The complete article can be found in Issue #275 of the Tokyo Journal. Click here to order from Amazon.

Written By:

Hiroyuki Suzuki

Producer, Author and Photographer Hiroyuki Suzuki has produced many Junko Koshino Fashion Collections in Paris, Beijing, New York and the opening dinner event of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2008. A Tokyo Journal columnist, he is also the author of Yuki et Maria, which is the sequel to the opera Madam Butterfly, I Am Myself Promise and A Moment. He began his career as a photographer in 2006 and the core concept of his photography is A Moment. He has photographed construction sites around the world including the Metro of Dubai, Tokyo International Airport, the Tokyo Gate Bridge, the Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway and the renovation of Tokyo Train Station. His photograph exhibitions have been held in Washington, D.C., Shanghai, Beijing and numerous locations throughout Japan.


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