“Calligraphic, erotic and elegant…”
Shinichi Maruyama is a Japanese-born photographer from Nagano, Japan, now living and working in New York. This is the third exhibition of Maruyama’s work at the Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York. As with the last body of work the current series of nine photographs titled Nude focus on movement, the singularity of motion and the abstract nature inherent to all figurative forms. In the present interview with Bruce Silverstein, owner of Bruce Silverstein Gallery, we talked about the inspirations behind the sculptural, draped, yet abstract images Shinichi Maruyama created for the exhibition and how it related to the ideas of traditional photography, traditional Japanese calligraphy and western art history.
Photography, in its traditional sense, is about capturing a single moment in time. The goal is then to replicate the experience and make the reproduction look as time and space relevant as the original moment. Maruyama looks at time at a much higher magnification- it’s still a single moment, but through Maruyama’s lens it’s shattered into a tiny fraction of itself. In Kusho, (tr. writing in the sky – Japanese) Shinichi’s previous series of photographs, the idea was to capture that one shattered fragment of time and show the traditional Japanese artistic media – ink and water – in a new abstract form. The collision – a perfect abstract gesture.
Despite the final output medium being a photograph, Maruyama “painted” his images with ink. But his paintings were in within a three dimensional space and utilized different material qualities of the medium. The final photograph essentially incorporated several things at once: traditional media, performance (of colliding the elements in space) and photography.
In Nude, Shinichi Maruyama repeats the practice, but this time he blends time, figure, performance, painting and photography in his own way. Nudes are a composite of 10,000 individual images taken in the span of 2-4 seconds and layered onto one another. As Bruce Silverstein pointed out: “The images are now without the beginning the middle or an end.” There is perfect continuity, uniformity and fluidity to his forms that no longer aspire to be recognized as figurative.
Maruyama’s Nudes are also a nod to Marcel Duchamp and his famous (or infamous) Nude Descending a Staircase, 1912. For Duchamp, who was in the middle of his exploration of film and the moving image the goal was to show multiple states of being present in space in a single painting. For Maruyama, the point is the reflection of Duchamp – he melds fractions of time and motion into a single entity. The New Yorker called his images “calligraphic, erotic and elegant”. We would like to add – timeless.
Interview transcript on page 2