In art, the tension between artistic expression and commercial work is nothing new. Every artist dreams of being unfettered by commercial constraints; some good ones get to pour their creativity into commercial work; for the lucky few it can even pave a path to art (James Rosenquist is one famous example). The Japanese cinematographer Kensaku Kakimoto has found commercial success early on in his career. At only 34, he has already created a slew of videos for some of the biggest Japanese and international brands like Toyota and Coca-Cola. He has also produced three feature films in Japan.
Since 2012 Kakimoto has been taking photographs of the places he has visited all over the globe. These fragments of time frozen in image make up his artistic body of work that, though still in its infancy, demands attention. His first photo series, “TRANSLATOR,” was exhibited in Tokyo at On The Hill gallery only last year. “HYOMEN,” his second series, is now on view at the Taka Ishii gallery’s New York branch. Getting the nod from Taka Ishii – arguably the most important art photography dealer in Japan who handles the likes of Nobuyoshi Araki and Daido Moriyama – is a serious endorsement for a young artist and is notable in itself. So is the work; the HYOMEN is a collection of aerial photos Kakimoto took in Namibia from the height of 10,000 ft. These photographs “…reminded me of human skin when seen through a microscope,” the artist said in the accompanying press release. “The roads and rivers appear like blood vessels and all the people were like tiny microcells moving around. I wanted to share this sensation and the context of how we as human beings are so dependent on the tremendous existence and beauty of the earth.”
Though Kakimoto is not the first artist to use panoramic photography, he uses it to his own ends. They are not meant to shift perspective in order to show us a sense of scale of human industry the way Edward Burtynsky does, or the consumerist spectacles that Andreas Gursky depicts. Kakimoto’s purpose seems to be more meditations on nature, with humans playing a backup role. The photos are stunningly executed. To say that one’s photos have a painterly quality is becoming cliche, but there really seems to be no better description of the pastel colors of the HYOMEN series. You can see for yourself – the exhibit runs until June 30th.