- Hiroshi Sugimoto
- The Last Supper
signed on a label affixed to the reverse of the center panel
gelatin silver prints mounted on panel in artist's frames, in 5 parts
Acquired by the present owner from the above
London, White Cube, Hiroshi Sugimoto, January - March 2001 (another example exhibited)
National Gallery of Singapore, Singapore Biennale 2006, September - November 2006 (another example exhibited)
Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto left Japan for Los Angeles in 1970. There he became inspired by the universal facets of Minimalist painting and sculpture which came to dominate his work. His photographs have explored the aesthetic and conceptual boundaries of photography for more than thirty years. Through the use of a large-format camera and extremely long exposures, Sugimoto explores his themes through a rigorous use of continuality. Sugimoto captures what is elusive to sight, stimulating intellect and vision through his dramatic minimal images of oceans, architecture, movie screens, natural history dioramas, Buddhist sculptures as well as wax portraits.
The Last Supper is a wax rendition, taken from a small Japanese waxwork museum, of Leonardo da Vinci's renowned painting. This work is one from a series of photographs taken in museums of historical and contemporary waxwork figures. The series includes images of historical figures such as Henry VIII, William Shakespeare, Rembrandt and Yasser Arafat. Each work presents these figures in simple but dramatic black and white. Sugimoto decontextualizes the iconic images focusing on the process of art and aesthetic representation, further emphasizing their sense of importance.
Each panel in the Last Supper, although presented as a single seamless piece, is in fact shot separately from different viewpoints. The groups of figures were shot disparately rather than being shot as a single group as one might expect. Consequently there is a sense of disorganization and segregation from each panel to the next. As each panel is incongruent to the surrounding ones, there is an effect which stresses no single unifying point of view to cohere the scene.
The waxworks themselves are based on popular depictions of the individuals rather than a realistic interpretation. The varied depiction of the characters highlights the dialogue of photography since it was first developed: a relationship between painting and the medium of technological reproduction. The layers of reproduction, commencing with the subject, then to painting, then to wax model, and ending with his photograph, deliberately suggests the failing of time and the ability to retell history.