Remnant is a photographic exploration of a picture framer’s workbench: a surface stained and layered over several years with paints, glues and dyes.
Isamu Sawa’s follow-up to his highly successful Without Water botanical series in 2015 employs similar extreme close-up photographic techniques, but moves
in deeper to explore the artist’s fascination with macro photography, scale, abstract art and aerial landscapes.
Sawa discovered his subject – a 1.2m by 2.4m workbench – at Abbotsford custom picture framing business Arten Framing, in 2017. The densely layered tableau
of stains, scrapes, marks and patterns that had built up over many years immediately caught his eye. In a way, they were the inverse images of countless other
artworks: remnants of pictures carefully mounted, framed and sent off again into the world. But they were also beautiful, in their own right.
Intrigued, Sawa took the bench back to his studio in Collingwood. There, he spent months hovering over the surface looking straight down, viewing the surface
as if it were a vast aerial landscape; composing, cropping and magnifying tiny, passport photograph-sized sections that caught his eye. The process not only revealed
the score-marked bench-top in all its beautiful, textural detail, but resulted in a series of large, captivating prints that appear more like abstract paintings or
aerial landscapes than incidental paint stains.
“I began seeing things in the bench,” says Sawa. “By going in close and blowing up different sections I discovered arctic coastlines, vast mountain ranges,
even cave paintings – it was very exciting. Sometimes it felt like satellite imagery from another planet or abstract art.”
Just as the artist immersed himself in the imaginary worlds he created, Sawa invites the viewer to lose themselves in the images, too. “As kids we used to stare
up at the sky and find shapes in the clouds. These images are a bit like that – people see different things but they always see something. I love that about them.”
Remnant is a series of 10 large, exquisitely detailed, archival pigment ink prints on 100% cotton rag paper, each limited to eight editions.
Born in Japan and raised in Australia, Isamu Sawa is one of Australia’s leading commercial photographers, with a career spanning more than 20 years.
He first picked up a camera at age nine, inspired by his late father Peter Sawa, also a photographer. He has worked for high-level international brands such
as Mercedes Benz, Lexus, Mazda, Domaine Chandon and Penfolds. His editorial work has also featured in Vanity Fair, GQ and Vogue Magazines, shooting
portraits of well-known identities including fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier, actor Geoffrey Rush and cycling champion Cadel Evans.
More recently “Issey” (as most know him) has been focusing on his visual art practice. His artistic career began in 1999, when he exhibited photographic
works with his late father, at the Joshua McClelland Print Room Two generations – Two Views, followed by group shows at the Compound Interest: The Material
Series – Foto @ Pin-Up, in 2013/2014, Sun Celebrates at Sun Studios Melbourne in 2018 and The One at Rokeby Gallery in 2018.
His first solo exhibition was inspired by a bunch of flowers left behind by his florist wife, Basia. Intrigued by the plants’ decaying beauty and striking forms,
Issey began taking highly detailed, macrophotographic images of them. The resulting series formed Without Water, which opened in Collingwood in 2015.
Without Water turned out to be a great success, with extensive sales and positive local and international media coverage. It caught the eye of Sydney’s Black Eye
Gallery, and, in 2017, Issey was invited to tour the exhibition to NSW. At time of writing more than 50 works from the series have been acquired by collectors
in Australia and overseas.
Remnant is Isamu Sawa’s third and most recent solo show and comprises of 10 highly detailed photographs taken from a single picture framer’s workbench.
Like Without Water, these visually rich images play with scale, but to the point where some are reminiscent of aerial landscapes or abstract art. This new series
reflects Issey’s continuing fascination with the micro world, which, when blown up to a macro level, offer the viewer an exciting, new visual experience.