Christophe Guye Galerie, Zürich, Switzerland
Selected by Christophe Guye Galerie, Zürich, Switzerland
Representing success, prosperity, luck and strength, koi occupy a profoundly symbolic position in Japanese society and constitute a ubiquitous part of domestic culture. On the 5th May, Koinobori – or “carp streamers” – are flown to mark Children’s Day, a national celebration wishing healthy and prosperous futures upon Japan’s next generation. Incidentally, it is also on this occasion that the artist celebrates his birthday.
Perhaps best known for the dreamy Sakura series – which offered an unconventional view of Japan’s blossoming cherry trees in all their fleeting beauty – Suzuki’s work remains rooted in a poetic relationship with his home country. Koi, the artist’s most recent project, follows clearly along similar lines. Its constituent images were shot in the Gifu region of Japan, an area where koi are deeply embedded in cultural myth. According to an 8th century tale, it was here that an elusive woman caught the eye of a visiting Emperor, who later released the fish into a local pond in the hope that she would return to see them.
Suzuki’s work presents water as an entity in three distinct layers which are deconstructed through his lens; encompassing the surface, the reflection and the depths of the water itself. Whilst water provides both subject and context in Koi, it is also the site of conceptual reflection on the act of looking, or in Suzuki’s terms, the ‘consciousness of seeing’ – a decidedly central theme in the artist's wider practice. As brightly-coloured carp glide by, their movement alters our reading of the body of water, and subsequently our perception of the photograph – the surface is no longer still nor stable, whilst the water’s reflection provides a sister image in abstract shadow and light.
The Koi series first emerged as a natural progression from an earlier project entitled Water Mirror, as well as from Suzuki’s own enduring interest in water. In line with Japanese tradition, the artist perceives himself to be very much a part of the water cycle, regarding water as a critical interconnection between body and nature. In this way, Koi becomes an act of self-reflection for Suzuki, whilst simultaneously inviting a broader discussion around how we see.