Torii Adore

September 2nd, 2015
Michael Kenna, "Torii Gate, Study 2," Shosanbetsu, Hokkaido, Japan, 2014, silver gelatin print.

Michael Kenna, “Torii Gate, Study 2,” Shosanbetsu, Hokkaido, Japan, 2014,
silver gelatin print.

Most of Michael Kenna’s monochromatic photographs of Japan could have been taken anywhere, and that is part of their allure. He sees both the forest and the trees, a row of distant birch, clump of snow-covered branches, or a few barren stalks, each completely ordinary yet absolutely exquisite. Yes, there are the requisite shots of torii, gates marking the entrance to sacred spaces which every tourist snaps, but Kenna embeds his in formlessness, setting his exposure to surround them by water fluffed into wisps of cotton candy, making them that much more concrete by comparison, and lending a sense of permanence. In “Forms of Japan” he finds patterns and symmetry in the seemingly random and intention in happenstance, in sticks thrust into the mud by Man or rocks strewn by the gods, and in a solitary cherry tree slashed by the light of a time-lapsed rising full moon.

Forms of Japan starts on Friday, 9/3 at 5:30 p.m. and continues through Sept. 26 at Dolby Chadwick Gallery, 210 Post St., Ste. 205, S.F. Admission is free; call 415-956-3560 or visit

Michael Singman-Aste
Postdiluvian Photo

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