Published by Damiani. Introduction by Eikoh Hosoe.
Drawing on 19th-century photo techniques, Izu's still lifes and portraits are poised between lustrous sensuality and austere grandeur
When Kenro Izu is taking photographs, he finds himself constantly challenged by a seductive voice urging him to make a “nice picture.” And Izu’s photographs are gorgeous—the artist, inspired by 19th-century photography methods, has been working with a large-format camera since 1983, making detailed, lustrous contact prints on hand-coated platinum palladium paper. A master technician, Izu is considered one of the greatest living platinum printers. But taking “nice pictures” is not what Izu sets out to do.
The photographer aims instead to capture something of the spirit or inner life of his chosen subject—whether it be a still life or an ancient, sacred monument. Izu describes this tension between capturing the essence and beauty of the subject as an “effort to hold myself at the very edge (before falling into the dark hole of seduction).”
Kenro Izu: Seduction presents the results of these efforts: photographs by Izu of fruits, plants and human figures, all made with a large-format film camera and contact printed in platinum from 8x10 to 14x20-inch negatives.
Japanese-born, US-based photographer Kenro Izu (born 1949) studied at Nippon University in Tokyo before deciding to settle in New York. In 1979 he began what has become a lifelong project, traveling to photograph the world’s sacred places. His journeys to Angkor Wat led him to establish a free pediatric hospital in Cambodia and found Friends Without a Border, a nonprofit organization to help Asian children.
Published by Steidl/Howard Greenberg Library. Text by Juhi Saklani.
Kenro Izu’s (born 1949) Eternal Light is a record of Indian spirituality. In Varanasi, known as the Indian “City of Light,” Izu photographed festivals, rituals and cremations as well as portraying individual experiences of joy and suffering related to death and the afterlife. In Allahabad, where the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers meet, Izu attended the festival of Kumbh Mela, and in the city of Vrindavan, he photographed among the thousands of temples dedicated to Krishna.
Highly attuned to the emotions of his subjects, Izu’s exquisitely rendered black-and-white photographs are intended to convey dignity and hope. He has stated: “It’s as though the Hindu gods have suggested that I think about the question, where are people heading, in this life and after?” Through these photographs Izu strives to find the answers.
The images of the Japanese photographer accompany the reader on a fascinating trip around the world through the most important religious centers. The sophisticated art of Kenro Izu (Osaka, 1949) is the focal point of a volume devoted entirely to the photographer’s long exploration of the world’s most important holy places, from Cambodia, India, and Tibet to Indonesia, Egypt, and Syria. Fascinated by the sublime beauty of ancient remains, he returns to the styles and printing techniques of 19th-century photography, as they are best able to capture the mystical atmosphere of the places examined.
Filippo Maggia is currently researcher at the Photography Department of the Royal College of Art, London. Since 2010, he has taught photographic documentation at the Accademia di Belle Arti (Fine Arts Academy) in Catania (Sicily).