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The Undescribed Dance

Natasha Christia

The second monograph of Hiro Matsuoka (Japan 1968) brings together his most recent work (2007-2010) in a self-published book entitled “The Undescribed Dance”. Thirty-nine black and white photographs are accompanied by two quotations from the “The Picture of Dorian Gray” (1891), Oscar Wilde’s notorious novel. From January 18 to March 30, 2013, a selection of eighteen pictures of the series will be on display at KOWASA gallery. Copies of the publication signed by the artist will also be available.

In this second photographic series/book that follows “Scenes and Stories”, shown at KOWASA in 2007, Matsuoka further explores the possibilities of composition in square format, while remaining faithful to the characteristic uncanny ambience encountered in most of his pictures – an ambience carefully composed on the basis of perspective distortions, illusory games of light and other optical phenomena. Fragmented and unorthodox, his frames put their attention on advertising banners, screens and glass showrooms, all elements of routine everyday life and urban recreation areas. The interplay of out of focus images and reflections produces an alienating and bizarre effect, often on the verge of surrealism.

Despite the fact that Matsuoka’s photographs are non-staged instantaneous shots, his camera seems to capture a distant reality, far away from the banal. In his resulting overly unconventional compositions, the weight of the image falls from the center to the edges, fostering a sense of disequilibrium and uneasiness. Empty space dominates the center of the picture, while its protagonists are sent to the edge of the frame. Their faces are covered by shadows or appear vague and dissolved against the strong sun, and are often no longer to recognize. The camera approaches the real but ends up registering its incomprehensible aspect. As if unwilling to be carried away by the obvious, it unravels, with a handful of irony, the grotesque language of advertising and mass media.

By means of an effective positioning of graphic surfaces in a high contrast of volume and light, the images of “The Undescribed Dance” are constructed as independent episodes. At the same time, as a whole they are woven together into a rather abstract yet eloquent narrative flow, thanks to the play of an illegible reality and the inventiveness of the gaze that recreates it.

KOWASA gallery, January 2013

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