Trees: Tokihiro Sato

When 31 Dec 1969

Tokihiro Sato: Trees

Leslie Tonkonow Artworks & Projects
535 W22nd St NY NY 10011
Tu-Sa 10-6pm, Tel.  212-235-8450

Press Release:

Tokihiro Sato’s fifth one-person show at Leslie Tonkonow will feature fifteen black & white photographs created during the past two years in the primeval mountain forests of northern Honshu, the main island of Japan. These images reveal the artist’s long fascination with the sculptural form of the Japanese beech tree which, for him, suggests the ancient continental origins of the Japanese people, while representing masculinity in its formal strength and femininity in its sensual curves.
Educated as a sculptor, Sato turned to photography in 1987 as an outgrowth of his interest in the conceptual and land art of the 1970s. His photographs of trees are the most recent works in an ongoing series that he describes as “breath graphs” or “photo-respiration,” a reference to the meditative quality of repetitive choreographed gestures he enacts in front of the camera.

With his large-format camera on a tripod, timed for exposures that may last as long as three hours, the artist moves rapidly through his chosen location. When working in daylight, he stops periodically to flash a mirror at the sun, reflecting intense light back on to the negative. The resulting photographs capture time, space, and motion, seamlessly integrating precise detail with blurred areas. Punctuated by pinpoints of light that track the artist’s movements, they depict his presence but not his image.

The exhibition includes nine gelatin-silver prints, each measuring 62 x 51 inches and a group of six smaller prints, 24 x 20 inches each. It is accompanied by a 32-page, fully illustrated catalogue.

For more information about the show, please visit

Artist Information:

Tokihiro Sato was born in 1957 in Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture, in northern Honshu, Japan. He earned degrees in sculpture at Tokyo University of the Arts where he is now a professor. His first solo museum show in the United States took place in 2003 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, where he was also one of a select group of contemporary artists included in the ground-breaking 150-year survey ofThe History of Japanese Photography. In 2005 the Art Institute of Chicago presented Photo-Respiration: Tokihiro Sato Photographs, which featured the large-scale, black and white, back-lit transparencies for which he is best known. Presence or Absence: The Photographs of Tokihiro Sato will take place at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, in Nashville, Tenn. from June 18 to September 12, 2010.

Works by Tokihiro Sato are in the collections of major institutions worldwide, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Art Institute of Chicago; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Cleveland Museum of Art; the Hara Museum of Art, Tokyo; the Museum of Modern Art, Saitama; the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia; and many others.