Pace Gallery presents Sea of Buddha, an exhibition featuring photographs from Hiroshi Sugimoto’s series of the same title and a related film work.
The “Sea of Buddha” series, conceived in 1988 and realized in 1995, explores Sugimoto’s overarching interest in light, history and time—which the artist refers to as “one of the most abstract concepts human beings have created.” Conceptually related to the ongoing photographic series that occupy his practice, the forty-eight black-and-white images that make up Sea of Buddha use the same formal language of precise compositional balance and size to achieve an apparent uniformity between each photograph. For the exhibition, thirty-six
photographs from the series will be installed. Five works from Sugimoto’s iconic Seascapes series (1980–), in which the horizon divides sea and sky in varying locations and atmospheric conditions, will also be included.
For Sea of Buddha, Sugimoto deviated from his usual process of continuously working on and expanding a series over years or decades, instead finalizing a closed set of images over the course of ten days. The collection of photographs features images of the one thousand statues installed in Kyoto’s Sanjῡsangen-dō,
or Hall of Thirty-Three Bays, a temple dating to 1266 AD. Through visual repetition, Sugimoto refers to the religious and historical concepts that guided the original creation of the statues that are his subject for the series. Simulating the reproductions of the one-thousand-armed bodhisattva of compassion known as Senju Kannon, Sugimoto’s images signify the Buddhist practice of replicating manifestations of a deity in order to achieve spiritual merit. The compositional structure of the photographs and the effects of light enhance the repetitive nature of the unframed images, creating the impression of a limitless expanse—or sea—of figures in space.
The installation of photographs will be accompanied by Accelerated Buddha (1997)—the artist’s first video work—which expands his investigations of time. In this three-channel video, Sugimoto returns to his Sea of Buddha series with a progression of images that transition into one another with increasing speed,
confronting the perceptual experiences of time.