Kabuki Players, Natsuki Tukamoto 2003
April 15 – May 30 2005
Artist’s Reception April 15, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
The Photographic Center Northwest presents Two Home Countries by Hiroshi Watanabe. This selection of work is taken from his series in Japan and the US. Watanabe was born in Sapporo, Japan. He graduated from Department of Photography, College of Art, at Nihon University in 1975. He moved to Los Angeles after graduation and became involved in the production of Japanese TV commercials. He later established his own production company and produced more than 300 commercials for Japan. In 1995 his passion for photography rekindled, and since then he has traveled worldwide extensively, photographing what he finds intriguing at that moment and place. Watanabe will be present for the artist's reception April 15, 6-8pm.
Watanabe’s photographs reflect both a genuine interest in his subjects as well as a respect for the element of serendipity. Watanabe photographs people, traditions, and locales that first and foremost are of personal interest, while other times he seeks pure beauty. His images distill scenes ranging from the ephemeral to the eternal, from the esoteric to the symbolic. He makes every effort to be a faithful visual recorder of the world around him, a world in flux that, at very least in his mind, deserves preservation.
Included in the exhibition, Two Home Countries, are portraits of puppets from the play Ena Bunraku. Bunraku, a traditional Japanese stage art performed with puppets, was created during the Edo period. The puppets are about one meter tall and are usually manipulated by three puppeteers who make the puppets appear alive. The puppet’s faces vividly display emotions while the puppeteers are visible on stage dressed in black outfits. Bunraku plays are also accompanied by traditional musical instruments known as Shamisen together with a singer-narrator who tells the story with deeply felt emotions.
Kabuki Players are another portrait series in Watanabe’s work. Members of localized small Kabuki companies located in various parts of Japan. They are not professional actors. They actually spend quite a lot of their own money to be in the plays. Kabuki is known for lavish make-up, costumes, and stage set-ups. As such, those who want to be in the plays must be committed and prepared. They spend their time and money because of their love and joy of being part of their tradition.
Watanabe says, ”I believe good portraits are the ones that show the characters and personality of the subjects--their human beings. I find it a difficult task, as people are so well educated about photographs nowadays. People know how to pose, how to make impressions, and how to look good, and hardly reveal what they really are. Those Kabuki players are also hidden in heavy make-up and wardrobes in a made-up world. But when they sit in front of my camera between plays, they are so saturated in their roles that they pay very little attention to my existence. And they are not afraid of my camera, as their faces are shielded by the heavy make-ups, and they can be themselves.”
To see more of Watanabe's work go to www.hiroshiwatanabe.com
Location: 900 Twelfth Avenue (at Marion), Seattle,
Gallery hours: Monday 12 Noon - 9:30pm, Tuesday – Friday 9:00am- 9:30pm, Saturday 9:00am – 5:00pm and Sunday 12:00 – 5:00pm
Contact: Ann Pallesen, Gallery Director (206) 720-7222 x 102
Kabukiza, Tokyo, Japan
American Museum of Natural History, NY
Vietnam Memorial, Washington DC
A nonprofit center for photographic arts education, the Photographic Center Northwest is dedicated to offering fine art photography education, supporting the arts community, and enhancing public awareness of fine art photography. Students choose to take individual workshops and classes or to enroll in a comprehensive program, which includes a yearlong thesis project. Our fine art photography curriculum encompasses concept, theory, aesthetics, and technical proficiency. The Photographic Center Northwest fosters community through gallery exhibits and receptions, lectures, projects with other arts organizations, artists-in-residence, events for members, darkrooms used by students and renters, and subsidized programs for youth.