Yoshihiko Ito

In the Box

Jan 13 - Mar 4, 2017

Yoshihiko Ito

In the Box

Jan 13 - Mar 4, 2017

  • ©Yoshihiko Ito

Yoshihiko Ito was born in 1951. After graduating from the Tokyo College of Photography in 1977, he turned his focus to utilizing photography to express abstract concepts such as time and consciousness.


Since his career as an artist began in 1980 he has produced a large and philosophical body of work rooted in scrupulous observation. In his unique “Contact Print” series he chronologically arranged prints made using a half-frame camera to reveal a greater pattern. In his “Shadow” series, he built upon that concept by incorporating elements in each frame that come together to form an image when viewed as a contact sheet. In “To Observe” and “To Continue to Observe,” he employed this method to studies of water drops, leaves, waves, clouds and more to explore the often unpredictable relationship between photographer and subject, while also expressing intangible concepts like time and thought within the images. In the mid-nineties he moved away from contacts sheets and began splicing images together into “picture scrolls” for his ongoing “Patrone” series. Taking inspiration from the extraordinary representation of time and space found in Japanese “emaki,” he makes several photographs from a fixed point of view, then tears the prints apart to reconstruct them as mosaic images.


“In the Box” is the culmination of the “Patrone” series thus far. Enshrined dolls, raindrops and unassuming animals are subjected to the same level of scrutiny as “To Observe” and “To Continue to Observe,” and via Ito’s own “picture scroll” method present a unique look into the otherwise invisible ebb and flow of time and consciousness.

So much has accumulated over the years. Dating all the way back to my days living in a 6 tatami mat room, I’ve accumulated so much stuff that I don’t know what to do. I know I need to sort it all out and get rid of things. When push comes to shove, though, I simply can’t. Instead I wind up pulling things out and putting them back, or maybe moving them to other spots. I’ve shifted things around like this all too often. There are books from thirty years ago that I’ve never opened. Books that I never will open, or be able to throw away for that matter. As I stare at their spines I’m reminded of someone I heard about who worked hard raising fruit trees only to cut them all down without a second thought.

As I pull out a dusty box, I realize that I can’t recall what it contains. It’s not like it’s Pandora’s Box, but opening it will give me a small rush of excitement as I dredge through the mess. You can lose your memories, but you can’t throw away the ones you don’t want anymore. Whether you realize it or not you’re using your five senses to store all your happy and sad memories into little boxes of the mind.

In this world we don’t get a message that lights up to tell us we have zero gigs of memory left. We can try throwing what we don’t need into the trash. The trouble is that it don’t always go away.

For fun I cut up some expired film into seven or eight centimeter strips, put them into a bottle with some water, sealed it up and put it on my desk. After some time, the water started getting cloudy. With a little more time, I looked inside to find that pieces of the film’s surface had peeled off and were floating around like jellyfish. Eventually these jellyfish dissolved away. Imagining our memories following this same pattern is enough to give me nightmares.

My “Patrone” series began as an attempt to make emakimono (Japanese picture scrolls) out of photographs. Using strands of light and time I’ve managed to stitch these photographs into just that.

Yoshihiko Ito

Yoshihiko Ito was born in Yamagata, Japan, 1951 and graduated from the Tokyo College of Photography in 1977.

He started his artistic career in the 1980’s and since then always created deeply contemplative photographic works. His artistic process begins with his close observation and reflection on the fleeting nature of time, place, and life itself.He also exhibits “Patrone” series from 2000 which is in a new and different method from his early series “Contact”. He condenses a time by the slash and restructuring the image.

His solo exhibitions include “Time” (Photo Gallery International [P.G.I.], 2010) “Puddles” (P.G.I. 2006), “Bubbles of Lotus” (P.G.I. 2004), “Patrone” (P.G.I. 2000), “In the Shadow” (P.G.I. 1998), “Contact Print Stories” (Laurence Miller Gallery 1992).


PGI exhibitions;

Feb 18 Mar 31, 2010 Time
Sep 4 Oct 6, 2006 Puddles
Apr 14 May 28, 2004 Bubbles of Lotus
Nov 6 Dec 6, 2000 Patrone
May 7 Jun 12, 1998

“On the Shadow”

Sep 5 Oct 5, 1996

“Wind and Snail”

Sep 1 Sep 30, 1994

“Contact Prints: To Observe and Continue to Observe”