|Dates: ||1964 - |
|Born: ||Japan, Nagoya|
|Active: ||Japan / US|
Contemporary artist Yuichi Hibi documents urban environments. Instead of focusing on the center of activity, he is drawn to the edges - both physical and temporal. The resulting photographs leave impressions, imbued with cinematic narrative. They appear like stills plucked from a surreal tale or film noir.
In Imprint, an early series from 1992-1993, Hibi juxtaposes scenes from his adopted home in New York with those taken on a journey back to Japan, where he lived until 1988. In the grainy and dark images, an initial sense of familiarity is pervaded by angst and isolation, like a déjà-vu. Nazraeli published a book by the same title in 2005. .
An unmanned food cart looming in a deserted street, the outline of a distant stick figure reflected in wet pavement, an empty counter and chairs seen through the window of a darkened diner; these are some of the views that make up Zero Hour, a subsequent series of Hibi's nocturnal wanderings. Here, the physical distance and visual obstructions imply a psychological detachment
In a documentary on photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank, Hibi used both photography and cinematography. The fruition of the intimate visits he made to Nova Scotia in the late 1990s was assembled into a series titled A Weekend with Mr. Frank. In 2006, Nazraeli published some of these images as part of its One Picture Book edition.
The aloof, playful, and unpredictable nature of the feline species has been captured in Neco, Hibi's unsentimental survey of cats. Fifteen years after the photographs were taken and a book dummy was produced with drawings and handwritten titles, this wonderful collection is finally available as an oversized album.
Hibi recently completed editing and printing his two most recent series of photographs, Hiroshima and Shanghai. Drawn by history and curiosity, he traveled to Hiroshima for the first time in 2005 and returned the following year to search for tangible or imagined remains on the city's outskirts. Uncovering a place overlooked by time, he made records evidencing neglected, decomposing, broken, rusted, and stained man-made detritus. The dense ashen images raise more questions than answers.
Dispensing with the shiny tall towers of new construction rapidly sprouting from China's big cities, Hibi turned to the rhythms of the back alleys of old Shanghai. Caucasian mannequins draped in dresses, plucked foul hanging in a store window, a wall covered with hand-written characters, and steam from boiling dumplings represent the tangible lives being usurped and sterilized in the name of progress and modernization.
Born in Nagoya, Japan, Hibi enjoyed significant success as an actor and filmmaker in Japan before moving to New York in 1988 and taking up photography. He graduated from Tokyo's Nikkatsu School and joined Japan's highly acclaimed theater group Bungaku-za. Theater led him to film where his experience with producers David Puttnam (Midnight Express, Killing Fields), director Roland Joffe (Killing Fields) and Akira Kurosawa (Ran) inspired his photographic art. Hibi lives and works in New York.
Courtesy of L. Parker Stephenson Photographs, New York
(14 February 2012)
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