Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Renato D'Agostin, Tokyo Untitled @Leica

JTF (just the facts): A total of 23 black and white images, framed in thin purplish-brown metal frames and matted, and hung in the back room of the gallery (the Chinatown work of Alessandro Zuek Simonetti hangs in the front rooms). All of the photographs are gelatin silver prints sized 12x16 (or reverse) and are printed in editions of 25. The works were taken between 2007 and 2009. A monograph of this body of work has been published by Mc2 Gallery (here). (Ironically, Leica Gallery does not allow photography in the gallery, so unfortunately there are no installation shots for this show. Tokyo, 2009, at right, via the Leica Gallery website.)

Comments/Context: Renato D'Agostin's Tokyo is a dark, lonely, isolating place. In abstracted and impressionistic views, full of shadows and visual interruptions, D'Agostin portrays the city as a jumble of bustling emptiness, a dislocated montage of modern day Japanese noir.
D'Agostin was an assistant to Ralph Gibson, and some of Gibson's simplicity of form and mastery of stark contrasts comes through in his apprentice's work. Fragments of salarymen haunt the streets, captured against the stripes of a crosswalk or the sleek lines of an office building. Trains rush past in the darkness, heads caught in profile against the blinding light of the windows. People walk alone or in groups, carrying briefcases, trudging along in the dark, silhouetted against the features of unidentifiable public spaces. Grainy blurs slash across the compositions, reminiscent of Ray Metzker's use of a similar compositional device.
What I like most about these works is that they successfully combine that feeling of overwhelming visual stimulation that comes from being in Tokyo, with the uneasy sense of polarized remoteness and separation that is so intensely felt by visitors and outsiders.

Collector's POV: The prints in the show are priced at $1500 each. D'Agostin's work has not yet entered the secondary markets, so gallery retail is likely the only option for interested collectors at this point. Some of these images could certainly fit into our city/industrial collecting genre; I particularly enjoyed the silhouette of the man in a hat against a brick wall (Tokyo, 2009) and the dark passing train with four white spots (also Tokyo, 2009).

Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)

Transit Hub:

Renato D'Agostin, Tokyo Untitled
Through January 9th

Leica Gallery
670 Broadway
New York, NY 10012

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