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Hiroshi Sugimoto on "Five Elements" and Collecting Art

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Hailed as one of the most important photographers of our time, New York-based Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto is also an accomplished architect. He approaches his work from many different perspectives, with architecture as one component in designing the settings for his installations. As a photographer of the highest technical ability, with equal acclaim for the conceptual and philosophical aspects of his work, Sugimoto has created works in his "Five Elements" series that are constructed as shrines to a primordial birthplace. Using geometric symbols from thirteenth-century Buddhism, Sugimoto encases a single image from his iconic Seascape series in each glass structure. The sea and air, origins of all life, are seen through a prism of ancient Buddhist views of the universe. "Every time I view the sea, I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home," he says. "I embark on a voyage of seeing." View this series at the Asian Art Museum during the exhibition, Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past (May 18-September 2, 2012).

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