Michael Kenna has been photographing trees for some fifty years. To celebrate this milestone in his career as a photographer, he put together select works in his book Arbres/Trees, just now published by Skira in Paris. We take this publication as an occasion to show some of his best photographs from this book in the gallery; at the exhibition's opening, Michael Kenna will sign copies of his book.
His photographs, often taken at dusk or in the dark hours of the night, focus on the interaction between the natural landscape and structures created by humans. With long exposure times, his photographs capture essential things that only become visible over time.
Looking at a tree provides balance and relaxation. The trees photographed by Kenna are chance encounters. He describes them as his silent friends with whom he enjoys talking. In his approach, he is interested in seeing and 'listening' until their whole character unfolds before his eyes. The title of one of his photographs, Philosopher's Tree, stands for this attitude. It is an encounter that is both physical as well as intellectual and aesthetic, and when the light is just right, beholding and photographing gain an almost metaphysical dimension.
Kenna keeps revisiting some of the trees, especially the Kussharo Lake Tree on the island Hokkaido in Japan, which he photographed regularly between 2002 and 2013. There are numerous studies about it, and by now, in Japan it is also known as 'Michael Kenna's Tree'. In 2013, the tree was cut down; a final photograph bears witness to this.
Time plays an important role in Kenn's work, not just in his engagement with his themes, but also in the realisation of his works. He uses analogue photography, with the traditional medium of silver gelatin prints, and he is especially known for the intimate size of his photographs and the excellent hand-made prints that he produces in his own darkroom.
Nothing is ever the same twice because everything is always gone forever, and yet each moment has infinite photographic possibilities.
Press release courtesy Galerie Albrecht.