In her still and subdued works, Rinko Kawauchi (1972), one of the most celebrated Japanese photographers of her generation – tries to capture the brief and transient beauty of the everyday things we often overlook. Playing on such themes as the family and our interaction with the cycle of nature and life, this artist looks for wonder in details. It is astonishing that her sensitive yet forceful way of observing the world around her and of catching fleeting moments in a photo actually results in an exquisite fragility – which is also evident in her meticulously constructed compositions.
Kawauchi uses the micro-momentary as a compass and this, like surfing on a wave, has unpredictable results and as an experience is holistic. In these invariably subjectively-charged images, it is not the explicit that gains in importance, as is usual in photography, but the implicit. Kawauchi's pictures are permeated with the Greek kairos, a unit of psychological time or subjective parenthesis that is independent of linear, chronological time and creates depth in the moment.
The exhibition at Argos overviews ten years of Kawauchi's activity, and presents a selection of the photographic series Utatane (2001), Aila (2004), The Eyes, the Ears (2005), and 3 Years after Cui Cui (2008). The new video work Utatane 2 (2009) and the slideshow Cui Cui (2005) complement the exhibition. On one hand her work is a reflective movement towards the outside world while on the other a look on her private life. This results in groups of images that respectively focus on the smallest and most transitory moments of the ordinary day and give an intimate glimpse into Kawauchi's family life.
Perhaps the best summary of Kawauchi's moving work is to be found in this verse by William Blake:
"To see the world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour"