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Miyako Yoshinaga opens its second solo exhibition of works by Mikiko Hara
Untitled, 2016, from the Kyrie series © Mikiko Hara. Courtesy Miyako Yoshinaga, New York.

NEW YORK, NY.- To kick off the 2019 fall art season, Miyako Yoshinaga presents its second solo exhibition of works by Mikiko Hara, an award-winning Japanese artist known for her squareformat snapshot photography. Accompanied by the artist’s new publication, photopaper 44/45, the exhibition runs from September 12 to September 26, 2019.

In Hara’s latest series Kyrie — the title of which is inspired by its mystic sound rather than its origin in Christianity — the artist’s intuitive eye taps into hidden narratives behind seemingly mundane moments in the suburbs of Tokyo. Hara utilizes a classic film camera to unassumingly approach her subjects at close range. Speaking on her work, Hara says, “There is no set theme; I'm not trying to communicate a particular message. Instead I gamble on serendipity. I hope that each snapshot will stir some fragment of memory within every viewer, arousing complex feelings and emotions that can't be easily put into words.”

Making photographs by impulse rather than intention, Hara achieves uniquely instantaneous characterizations of her surroundings. Studies of single individuals in telling moments remain Hara’s strength: a young girl rolling a small ball over a concrete floor, a train conductor looking away as passengers pass by, a child lying on his stomach on the ground. These figures appear utterly lonely in their square spaces as if lone people on this planet. Sometimes Hara portrays confined spaces like her own family room or a station waiting room simply to direct extraordinary focus on ordinary activities — eating, dressing, reading, etc. Non-human subjects, from pale-pink lilies to monochromatic abstract landscapes, add mood and dimension.

Hara’s quietly provocative and sarcastic portrayals of urban inhabitants and landscapes are not mere social commentary, but instead reveal the kind of deep philosophical examination of human life often observed by novelists and filmmakers. By not using her viewfinder she avoids premeditated composition, and by applying
a slow shutter-speed to her fast-moving subjects, she creates a split-second lag between sight and recording, giving her work an unmistakable frisson of the unexpected.

Born 1967 in Japan, Mikiko Hara studied art history at university in Tokyo and immersed herself in experimental theatre as an actor. Soon after graduation, she quit her first office job and enrolled in the Tokyo College of Photography. Inspired by Gary Winogrand, Hara explored black and white snapshots and gradually developed her own personal style in color snapshots. In 1999, she was included in “Private Room II,“ the groundbreaking museum show featuring ten female photographers who defined the rise of woman photographers in Japan in the 1990s. Since then, her work has been shown internationally and is in the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others. In 2017, Hara won the prestigious Kimura Ihei Photography Award.

This fall, Hara concurrently holds a large-scale solo presentation at both the Yokohama Civic Art Gallery and at her former school of photography, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary and its ties to Bauhaus. Hara’s work will also be at the Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam with Miyako Yoshinaga.

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