© Hiroshi Watanabe

Hiroshi Watanabe
Portraits: Kabuki

The portraits are bold, enigmatic, and starkly honest. Los Angeles photographer Hiroshi Watanabe wants them that way. He's been investigating the ritualized world of Kabuki, the traditional national theater of Japan. But there's a twist. Though the Japanese revere their famous and popular Kabuki actors, Watanabe has chosen to focus on the anonymous provincial players living far from the spotlight of Tokyo.

Like the great German portraitist August Sander, Watanabe's photographs capture the fleeting moments when these actors loose themselves in the spirit of their character. By waiting for these unposed moments, we are given the opportunity to see beyond the heavy make-up and wardrobe, to the place where actors go to prepare themselves for the play. "I believe good portraits show the character and personality of the subject", Watanabe says. "This has become difficult, since most people are well educated about photography, and know how to pose - how to make an impression. When these Kabuki players sit in front of my camera, hidden in heavy make-up, they can be themselves without worrying about looking good for the photograph".

White Room Gallery welcomes you to see this latest investigation by a photographer deeply committed to discovering the interface between his native Japan and his adopted home in America. Watanabe has followed the rich tradition of other expatriate photographers, exploring his own culture from the vantage of another foreign country. His work has been extensively published and exhibited in Japan and America, and is included in the collections of the Houston Museum of Fine Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the George Eastman House of Photography.

Exhibition: February 28 - April 3, 2004
Gallery Hours: Tue-Sat 12pm - 6pm

White Room Gallery
8810 Melrose Avenue
USA-West Hollywood, CA 90069
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