The photographs published here were produced by Christopher J. LaFleur for LM Associates.

Following are introductions in English and Japanese for exhibitions of my work, titled “Graphical’, ‘Textures’, ‘Gardens’,’ Water and Stone’ and ‘Sublime’, held 2013-17 at the Gallery Omizubata in Karuizawa, Japan.

Sublime (2013)

I titled the 2013 exhibition 'Sublime', using the word the way it was used in the past to describe the awesome beauty of nature, at turns both magnificent and fearsome.  The first truly American school of painters, the 'Hudson River School' of the early 1800's, was inspired by such awe in the face of their new nation’s seemingly vast wilderness.  But not many years after they started painting the landscape near their homes in New York and New England, many grew dismayed by the speed with which early nineteenth century Americans were diminishing the wilderness.  As the Hudson River Valley became increasingly populated and industrialized, many of these artists followed the receding boundaries of wilderness, some as far away as the vast western territories then only recently explored by Westerners.  A century later, some of these same feelings motivated the American environmental movement's defense of many of the few remaining wilderness areas.  A pioneer in this movement, the Sierra Club, turned to the medium of photography and to artists such as Ansel Adams and Elliot Porter to raise public interest in preventing the destruction of the last American wilderness areas.  They took as a motto (and as the title of

a beautiful book of Porter's images) a saying attributed to Henry David Thoreau, "In wildness is the preservation of the world."

Inspired by these great artists of the near and distant past, I have looked for opportunities during a career as a diplomat and businessman to visit those wild places still remaining in my own country and in Asia, where I have lived and worked.  The increases in populations and pollution are ever greater threats to remaining wilderness on both sides of the Pacific.  I hope these monochrome images will in their own small way keep faith with the great artists of the near and distant past and help remind viewers of our need to preserve the sublime in nature while we still can.

Water and Stone (2014)

The 2014 exhibition was titled ’A Tale of Water and Stone’. One of the most dynamic landscapes on the planet is Iceland.  Like Japan, Iceland is an island country created less than 20 million years ago by shifting tectonic plates and still being shaped today by volcanic action and strong weather.  The peoples of the two lands share many traditions: making do with meager natural resources, dependency on fishing, love of hot spring bathing, and stoic courage in the face of natural disaster.  However, while Japan has become crowded and wealthy, Iceland has remained a small and lightly populated nation where the nature is rarely disfigured by concrete and asphalt.  In this way, it serves something of reminder of how beautiful Japan’s countryside might once have been, and a suggestion that as Japan’s population decreases not all the consequences may be bad. Japan may have a few things to learn from tiny Iceland, where geothermal power is highly developed and where preserving the beauty of the landscape has created an important source of income through tourism.

No landscape today better captures the sense of the ‘sublime’ -- the theme of the 2013 exhibition -- than Iceland’s.  The photographs in this exhibit focus in particular on the struggle between the powerful forces of water — in glaciers, tides and rivers — and the impressive stone formations still being created, that make Iceland's landscape so dramatic.  I have also included some images made at an area of Japan also still being shaped by this struggle between water and stone, Mt. Asama.  I hope these illustrate that there remain in Japan as well many awe-inspiring landscapes worth preserving.

Gardens (2015)

In my 2015 Exhibit, Japanese Gardens, all photographs were made in Japan as I travelled around Karuizawa and other places in search of scenes that capture the transient beauty both of living things and of those things more long-lasting such as rocks and rivers.  

In his book of essays on the Japanese garden, The Art of Setting Stones, Marc Peter Keane writes: “…patterns of time are in the garden and yet they are also in the wild. Plum trees flower there just as readily, streams cross meadows with as many twists and bends, and granite mountains dwarf any garden rock. The difference between the wild and a garden is that the images of time in the garden are there because we put them there. In the same way we capture a moment of time when we write a poem or brush ink to paper, we plant a plum in the garden to revel in the beauty inherent in the brevity of life, or we set a rock there to give ourselves a glimmer of hope that there may be in this transient world things that are eternal.”

Many in Japan and elsewhere try to convey their visions of the transient and permanent in the design of gardens, where the natural world is translated into symbols in arrangements of plants, rocks, water, often animated by living creatures.  I hope the arrangements of such forms in my images, like those gardens, convey my perceptions of time and timelessness.

Textures (2016)

Photographs delight audiences for many reasons. As light is essential to making a photograph, many argue that the quality of light – its luminosity, it color, the hard or soft shadows it casts – is the most important characteristic of a strong photograph. Outdoor photographers often write about being inspired by a particularly beautiful quality of light, perhaps the soft warm light toward the end of slightly cloudy day, and of running off in search of any subject that they can use to reflect that light. However, to be compelling, a photograph also requires a subject that in some way demands the viewer’s attention. What attracts our eye can range from the powerful lines flowing through a vast mountain scene to the delicate details in a closeup of a flower. This series examines one particular quality of subject that attracts the eye – texture. From the glassy smoothness of a still lake to the tortured fractures in an uplift rock faces, these qualities of subject are also essential to telling the story of a landscape and convincing the viewer to care about its future.

Graphical (2017)

Traditional painters created the illusion of three dimensional depth on the two dimensional surface of a canvas by including well-defined foreground, middle ground and back ground subjects to enhance the illusion of three dimensions. Landscape photographers often use these same techniques to compose scenes giving the viewer a sense of scale.

Much of my landscape work over the past year has focused on more graphic images. These photographs rely less on the illusion of depth. Instead, they try to appeal to the viewer through an interplay of shape and color in two dimensions. This approach also borrows from painting, including modern abstract art. 

The internet has made the sharing of images from great landscape locations widely available and can be challenging to present a fresh view.  Graphic landscapes sometimes offer opportunities to show something different.  Images of this graphic type form the majority of my work presented in this exhibition. I hope you enjoy them. 

荘厳 (2013年写真展)

アメリカの荒々しい自然はアメリカ人の思考に影響を与えてきたが、そもそも1800年初期に台頭した最初のアメリカ絵画の一派 「ハドソン・リバー派」☆ の画家達の作品は、新しい国の広大な原野に驚愕したしたことに原点がある。彼らは自然の力強さ、美しさが与える複雑な感情を、 SUBLIME-荘厳 と呼んだ。やがて、ハドソン渓谷に工業化の波が押し寄せ、自然の荒々しさが消えていくと画家達は西武に移動し活動を続けた。それから1世紀後、アメリカの環境保護主義者は、彼らと同じ気持ちで残り少なくなった、原野を守る行動を起こしている。パイオニアとして知られる「シエラ・クラブ」はアメリカ大自然破壊をストップするため、偉大な写真家であるアンセル・アダムス、エリオット・ポーターを利用して、一般市民に環境保護を訴え、米国の思想家ヘンリー・デイヴィッド・ソーローが唱えた


わずかではあるが、自分の写真がこの自然の SUBLIME-荘厳を守ることに、貢献できることを心より願っている。

(☆訳注 ロマン派の影響を受けた19世紀アメリカの風景画家のグループ。彼らが描いたのはハドソン渓谷とその周辺や、キャッツキル山地、アディロンダック山地、ニューハンプシャー州のホワイト・マウンテンの景色であった為

 水と石の物語 (2014年写真展)


昨年、私は当ギャラリーで催された写真展で「自然の荘厳美」を表そうと試みたが、アイスランドの自然ほど、そのテーマにふさわしい場所はない。この展示会においては水力 - 氷河、潮流、河 –と石の形態のせめぎ合いが、このアイスランドの景色をよりドラマチックにしていることに焦点をあてた作品を展示している。そして日本の水と石の闘いによって、まだまだ景色が変化している場所、浅間山の写真も数点含まれている。

私の日本庭園 (2015年写真展) 

マーク・ピーター・キーンは「The Art of Setting Stones」 という著書の中で 「…時の流れは庭にも、自然の中にもある。そこに咲いているひそやかな梅の花、草地をうねりくねって流れる小川、庭石を小さくみせる御影石の山。自然と庭の違いは、人間の造る庭には造り手のはっきりした時のイメージがある。詩、書を創作する時には、同じようにある瞬間をとらえている。人は、短い命に宿る美を楽しむ為に梅の木を植え、時には、このはかない世に永遠な物があるもしれない、というかすかな望みを持って石を置く。」と書いています。


景観の手触り (2016年写真展) 

写真は様々な理由で観衆に歓びを与える。写真には明かりが必要で、 光の質である光度、色、陰影の濃淡が 写真の完成度にもっとも影響を与えると、多くの者が論じている。アウトドア派の写真家は、ひときわ美しい明かり、薄曇り の夕闇 の柔らかい光に暗示を受けて、撮る対象を追い求めるとよく記している。ただ、 見る人を納得させる力強い写真には、被写体の質も大切だ。くっきりとした山の稜線や、花の近影が見せる美しいディテールが見る人の目を捉えるのだ。この展覧会では、被写体の持つ独特な texture、木目(きめ)を追った写真をご覧に入れたい。穏やかな湖面のキラキラした滑らかさ、痛めつけられた岩肌などは、見る人に景観を語り、自然保護を訴える強さを持っている。

グラッフィクな風景 (2017年写真展) 





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