SKY-HIGH ART: As friends, old and new, filed through Kensaku Kakimoto’s “Hyomen” exhibition at the Taka Ishii gallery Thursday, the photographer chatted about his first solo show in the U.S..
“Taka thought it was important to show the work while it’s so pure,” the photographer said through a translator, adding that his fine art is the complete opposite of his commercial work as a cinematographer, producer and video artist. “My commercial work is done to sell products. The motivation is to make products look good whereas this is purely my own sort of spontaneous work. It’s my point of view of the world.”
The Upper East Side gallery will run the exhibition through June, and has his new book “Translator.” Kakimoto recently shot a video for a Super Mario Bros. app and a film for Under Armour about women’s empowerment. In addition to shooting music videos, he often is airborne filming automobile commercials more often than not in Iceland. “Often when we’re doing those shots, I’ve thought wouldn’t it be fun if you could go a little higher, to see the world a little higher — not as high as being in a jet but being as high as in a helicopter,” he said.
While traveling, the photographer has always been intrigued by natural environments, the lives of people and aspects of cities that he visits. The uptown show “Hyomen” features a series of aerial photographs of landscapes in Namibia, the brown earth dotted with trees and streams seem to have a shimmering, almost painterly, effect. He said, “Viewing the surface of the earth from an altitude of 10,000 feet reminded me of human skin when seen through a microscope. The roads and rivers appeared 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.”
Off the clock, he likes to take photos randomly, inspired by photographers like Saul Leiter and Robert Frank. He also gets a kick out of the unintended humor he finds on the street such as pylons on the hoods of illegally parked cars. While taking a morning walk in SoHo Thursday, he turned his camera towards what most would turn away from — seeing an untold story in vomit on the street with a credit card nearby.
In terms of fashion photographers, Kamimoto has been looking at the work of Peter Lindbergh and Helmut Newton for a long time — and Irving Penn (whose retrospective he saw at the Metropolitan Museum of Art). After meeting with prospective U.S. clients, he planned to check out the Felix Gonzales-Torres exhibition at David Zwirner’s New York gallery before returning to Tokyo. As for the trick to a good photograph, Kakimoto said, “Try not to think as much as possible.”