Landscape is an exhibition of Japanese photographer Taiji Matsue’s urban and non-urban landscape images. Invoking a discoverer’s ambition to unmask unknown lands and cities, Matsue’s keen photographic style captures a depth of detail mixed with an unrelenting sense of geographic materiality that alerts the viewer to his or her own visual desires and expectations.
Engaging in the contemporary discourse of the disinterested eye, Matsue’s imagery forcibly omits central axes of engagement, thereby refusing to conform to the common visual language to which we as viewers have become so accustomed. His flattened invocation of the photographic surface forces us to engage with the classical landscape form in new and unfamiliar ways. Devoid of horizons, suffused in an almost tactile gray, Matsue’s imagery appears constituted out of the marriage between the flatness of the photo paper and the materiality of the physical subject, a two-dimensional relief of sorts emphasized by a lack of shadows and the imagery’s universal tonal diffusion. His work’s unremitting anti-narrative structure forces awareness of the frame and the great difficulty of visual comprehension in expansive terms. This is apparent in the comfort with which every picture aligns itself with the next, as though they are all a part of a universal space, the diversity of locales knowable only through the terse nature of their location titles: Egypt, Sinai, Alps, Morocco, for landscapes and abbreviated titles such as FLR (Florence), CHI (Chicago) and PAR (Paris) for cityscapes. Seeing Egypt or Israel represented as a fragmented expanse challenges our own willingness to reduce these locations to what other imagery has inclined us to perceive, seeing them only as socio-political hot-spots and not as diverse regions in their own right.