Boogie Woogie Photography & PhotogStory are pleased to present “Contemplations”, a solo exhibition by Takeshi Shikama at the Loft in Wong Chuk Hang from 10 December 2022 to 20 January 2023.
Born in Tokyo in 1948, Takeshi Shikama taught himself photography but never expected to be a photographer at the beginning. One day in early autumn 2001, as twilight set in, Shikama got lost in the mountain paths. Attracted by the darkness of the undergrowth, he found himself suddenly seized with a strong desire to take photographs. He set out to the same place again with a camera the following day, trying to capture the enigmatic feeling that animates him. This experience made him realize that he was not taking pictures of the woods out of his will but that the forest was inducing him to take its portraits. Since then, Shikama turned to photography after a lengthy career as a designer and never stopped photographing forests in Japan, the United States, and Europe.
Looking back, he feels that this all began with the decision to build a mountain lodge with his hands. To clear a plot of land for constructing a lodge inside a small forest, Shikama had to fell Japanese red pine trees some eighty years old. Although many years have elapsed since then, he still vividly remembers the feeling as he sat astride the felled-down trees, stripping them of their barks.
Owing to the invaluable experience of spending the next ten years building the cottage, his sensitivity towards nature came to be fully awakened. Lured by this mysterious sensation, Shikama started to travel all over Japan, visiting the depth of forests and continuing to take photographs.
Shikama always carries cameras when traveling. He is curious how the lens will capture the air in various places in different countries. Unlike the rapid snapping of pictures that most people experience, an image is photographed one at a time. The large format camera with 4×5 inches film makes him possible to record the details and gives him more time to contemplate while setting the camera. He also likes the square format. The Hasselblad camera with 6×6 cm film is more convenient and suitable for capturing fleeting moments.
The exhibition Contemplations comprises 32 of Shikama’s images captured worldwide, including the winter scenery in Japan, the magnificent Yosemite National Park in California, the Isle of Skye in Scotland, and urban forests in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and France.
Breathe in, breathe out, and listen for the silence. As the exhibition title depicts, Shikama’s images of the forest and trees guided us through a visual contemplation that unlocks a journey toward discovering the nature of silence. Shikama wrote:”the forest always stands there, motionless in total stillness. This is the image I have always had of the forest. It has dawned upon me that the forest is, in fact, the home of numerous silent and peaceful activities”.
It is not just the trees and plants matter, but also the process of making the image from start to finish that is part of the journey. Shikama attaches as much importance to the details of the image as to the photographic object. His photographs are made in Japan and are both stunning and tranquil. He uses the platinum/palladium technique on handmade Gampi paper, which is traditional Japanese paper made of Gampi tree bark, giving the prints a natural sepia tone.
He applies the emulsion by hand to each sheet, exposes the negative by contact, then reveals the image and fixes it chemically. This painstaking process requires mastery and attention that reflects the artist’s reverence for his subjects. The Gampi paper brings a unique and precious quality to each print, and its tone gives softness to the photo and reinforces the “stillness” of the forest in the final image.
Fascinated by the forest enveloped in natural and simple air, we hope these images in this exhibition can lead the viewers into Takeshi Shikama’s photography and meditation world. May the peace be with us.
A Solo Exhibition by Takeshi Shikama
Date: 10th December 2022 – 20th January 2023 (Closed from 28th -31st December)
Time: 2-7pm (Wednesday – Saturday)
Address: The Loft, 8/F, E Wah Factory Building,
56-60 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang.
The artist will be present on Saturday, 10 December, 2-7pm
Takeshi Shikama (Japan, 1948)
Takeshi Shikama’s life ambition is to capture the “invisible” world that lingers beyond the visible world of the trees. Each photograph is hand-printed by Takeshi Shikama, using the ancient platinum/palladium technique, considered the highest quality in black and white photographic printing. The Japanese Gampi paper on which he prints is a handmade UNESCO national treasure. It requires a great deal of time and manual labor, which reflects the intimacy Shikama has with his subject matter.
The works of Takeshi Shikama appear in numerous private and public collections, including the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France), Hermès International (Paris, France), the Museet for Fotokunst Brandts (Odense, Denmark), the Museum of Photographic Arts San Diego (California, United States), the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Texas, United States), the Santa Barbara Museum of Fine Art (California, United States), the Portland Art Museum (Oregon, USA) and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, (California, USA).
About Boogie Woogie Photography
Boogie Woogie Photography is a company founded in Hong Kong in 2016 to promote photography in Asia. The mission is to act as a platform for galleries, collectors, companies, and photographers aiming to develop photography projects in Hong Kong and Asia.
PhotogStory is an online Photography platform and Guest Curator based in Hong Kong. We focus on stories of local and international photographers and stories behind classic photos.