2018 #14

Koi

by Risaku Suzuki

Selected by
Christophe Guye Galerie, Zürich, Switzerland

Koi 17 K 3 from the series Koi 2017 Risaku Suzuki Christophe Guye Galerie

Selected by Christophe Guye Galerie, Zürich, Switzerland

"Dappled carp fish glide through crystal waters in Risaku’s latest series, marking a continuation of his lifelong interest in Japanese mythology and symbolism."

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.

Read more (1 min read)

Koi 17 K 5

Koi 17 K 5

Koi 17 K 4

Koi 17 K 4

Koi 17 K 2

Koi 17 K 2

Koi 17 K 1

Koi 17 K 1

Risaku Suzuki

Tokyo, JP

Risakusuzuki

Risaku Suzuki

Tokyo, JP

Risaku Suzuki (b. 1963, Japan) reflects on the traditional iconography of his home country. Represented throughout Japanese history in literature and art, cherry blossom, koi fish and water are subjects which steeped in cultural, auspicious meaning. Working often with soft-focus, adjusting our perspective of depth and tangibility, Suzuki revitalises his subject matter creating images that are at both hyper-real and dreamlike. Documenting the landscape of Kumano - an area of extreme natural beauty and historic pilgrimage sites - has been amongst his lifelong projects. Favouring the narrative sequence, Suzuki moulds delicate stories which are aesthetically unique.

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