Naohisa Hara

Asia: Photographs of Shanghai

May 11 - June 25, 2022
PGI

Naohisa Hara

Asia: Photographs of Shanghai

May 11 - June 25, 2022
PGI

  • ©Naohisa Hara

  • ©Naohisa Hara

  • ©Naohisa Hara

  • ©Naohisa Hara

  • ©Naohisa Hara

  • ©Naohisa Hara

  • ©Naohisa Hara

  • ©Naohisa Hara

Naohisa Hara is best known for his European cityscapes captured in places like Paris or in Italian mountain towns using an 8×10 large-format camera. In recent years, Hara has been creating a travelogue-like series that documents the rapidly changing scenery in Asian cities and megalopolises. The unwavering beauty of his immaculate photographic prints have earned Hara an appreciative following both internationally and in his native Japan. In 2017, Hara’s works were exhibited in a large-scale solo retrospective show at the National Museum of History in Taipei.

This exhibition at PGI Gallery focuses on Hara’s Shanghai series, photographed between 2007 and 2009. In 2000, after many years spent photographing European towns and cities, Hara made his first visit to South Korea. He was immediately struck by the liveliness and vibrancy unique to Asian cities and began to photograph locations around Asia. During his trips to South Korea, Taiwan, Beijing, Shanghai and other locations, Hara, who had taught at the Nihon University College of Art until March 2022, received generous help from many former exchange students, who supported his photographic journey as local drivers, interpreters, or by carrying his luggage.

In Shanghai, Hara witnessed the destruction of many old buildings in preparation for the Expo 2010 Shanghai as the city dressed itself in modern architecture. Hara focused his photography on places of ordinary life in the old city, particularly the lilong housing complexes of the common people, which were disappearing without raising much protest from Shanghai’s citizens. Once home to several international settlements reserved exclusively for British and American citizens, Shanghai’s urban scenery is characterized by a unique blend of Eastern and Western styles, with old brick buildings as a common feature. Today, more than ten years later, many of the scenes captured in Hara’s photographs have changed dramatically and even disappeared entirely.

Hara approached his subjects with an unwieldy, unconcealable 8×10 large-format camera. The dense textures and rich detail of Hara’s photographic prints—of rubble, watermelon piles, or brickwork adorned with years of grime and dirt—evoke in their viewers a visceral appreciation of the direct documentary force of a straight photograph.

Since the 1990s, Hara has been using the platinum palladium process for his photographic prints, which produce black-and-white images with exceptional gradation and enduring stability of the image. This meticulous technique—one of the earliest methods of photographic printing—begins by applying a photosensitive solution containing the stable metals platinum and palladium to a sheet of paper. The prepared paper is then exposed with an image using a large negative and a special ultraviolet light. To attain perfect results, Hara creates his prints only during the few months in summer when the conditions are the most favorable.

This exhibition will feature approximately 30 black-and-white platinum-palladium prints.

 

Naohisa Hara

Born in Chiba, Japan in 1946. Graduated from Nihon University College of Art’s Department of Photography in 1969 and finished a program at Nihon University Art Institute in 1971. Visited France and Germany via an artist overseas training system run by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in 1976. He also studied and photographed in Paris as a long-term foreign residency researcher though Nihon University in 1984-85. In 2016, he retired from Nihon University Art Institute.

Recent solo exhibitions include; Legacy of Time Passed (National Museum of History, Taipei, 2017), Asia: Photographs of Beijing ⁃ Hutong – Chai (Photo Gallery International (PGI, called now), 2013), Nostalgia (BOM gallery, Seoul, 2010), Asia: Photographs of Taiwan (2009), Asia: Photographs of Korea (2005), Europe: Journey of a Lifetime (2003), Venezia (2000), Europe–Platinum Print Collection (1997)(Photo Gallery International (PGI, called now)).

Group exhibitions include; Architecture x Photography, A Light Existing Only Here (Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, 2018), eco (Seoul, Korea, 2012), eco (Seoul, Korea, 2010)  Domani:The Art of Tomorrow 2008 (The National Art Center, Tokyo, 2008), Viva! ITALIA (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, 2001), The Platinum Print Collection : Glittering Through Eternity (Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts, Yamanashi, Japan, 2000), Internationale Fototage Herten (Herten, Germany, 1999).