Though photography often says more than words, it doesn’t always see as the mind feels. Through the viewfinder, mentally perceived spaces can become foreshortened by the mechanical picture frame; more details are recorded than the mind remembers. The moment is changed.
Keisuke Shirota’s current solo show, his second at Kayabacho’s Base Gallery (www.basegallery.com) can be seen as an attempt to address what the mind feels. His works, which continue themes from his first show in 2004, merge the worlds of photography and painting to sit somewhere between. The exhibition consists of large, mainly black canvases on which blurry color night shots of ordinary Tokyo streets are stuck. Shirota then employs the possibilities of paint to extend these blurry scenes, by enlarging the photo’s planes of perspective out into the panoramic world of his 2-meter-wide canvases. The results are realistic, eye-grabbing works that are at the same time unclear and missing in parts. It is as if the mechanical eye of the camera has merged with the selective world of seeing and perceiving.
Shirota’s aim is take us somewhere deep in our memory, and that he does. His photos might be unplaceable, and he might extend them in his studio with little memory of when and where they were taken. However, the results — despite their eerie lack of people — will be strangely familiar to any Tokyoite.