Hisaji Hara — Artweek.LA

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Hisaji Hara: A Photographic Portrayal of the Photographs of Balthus

June 26, 2012

Using medium-format film and meticulous in-camera methods, Hisaji Hara reinvents the legendary and provocative paintings of highly revered 20th century figurative painter, Balthus (1908-2001). Closes July 7 at RoseGallery.

In his staged tableaux, Hara appropriates the adolescent subjects featured in Balthus’ canvases, paying particular attention to details in posture and expression. The setting as well as the costuming, however, are uniquely Japanese. Thus, the artist culls from the suggestive vocabulary of the originals – paintings simultaneously youthful and erotic – while playing with strict architectural formalism and Lolitaesque obsessions that anchor the work in Japanese cultural traditions.

Hara’s technique involves creating multiple exposures in-camera without computer manipulation, coupled with the use of smoke machines and cinematic lighting. The result is a highly enchanting and singular print quality that reinforces the poignant longing and adolescent reverie that his subjects embody.

Hisaji Hara was born in Tokyo, Japan, and graduated from the Musashino University of Art and Design in 1986. In 1993 he emigrated to the United States and worked as a director of photography for television and documentary film before returning to Japan in 2001. “A photographic portrayal of the paintings of Balthus” was made over a period of five years beginning in 2006. In 2010 he received first prize at the Yokohama Photo Festival for the work.

Text and images courtesy of Artweek.LA