02.09.2021–10.10.2021 Painting/Falling Water IBASHO Gallery

Toshio Shibata

IBASHO is proud to present the second solo exhibition of the Japanese artist Toshio Shibata. Two books ‘Painting’ by Chose Commune’ and ‘Falling Water’ by the Velvet Cell, launched during the exhibition, reflect two essential elements in Shibata’s body of work.

Shibata started his career as a painter after having studied fine art in Japan. In 1976 he applied for a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Art in Gent, Belgium. A professor at the Academy asked Shibata to join the newly established photography class, which Shibata did. When returning to Japan, Shibata was convinced that his way forward as an artist was to solely focus on photography.
That Shibata started as a painter is a fact that has undoubtedly influenced his work as a photographer: he makes images that are elemental in form and theme.
Nearly all of Shibata’s works picture civil engineering projects in natural landscapes. These artificial structures, ubiquitous in Japan's fields and hills, are built with the emphasis on function, such as preventing landslides, controlling floods, and enabling passage through mountains, and should therefore be completely separated from the pursuit of figurative pleasure and beauty. Shibata, however, uses the geometrical forms of the man-made structures in nature, to detach the landscape that is in front of him, from place and time and therefore from reality, which resembles the effects of a painting.

Falling Water
It is clear that Shibata has a preference to include water in his tableaus. Shibata’s use of long exposures capture the water’s strength, flexibility and innate grace as it spills, crashes, and glides over constructed dams, sluices and channels. Even as one imagines the roaring sound of the crashing falls from the imposing works of civil engineering, the quietness in Shibata’s vision reigns. Including water in his tableaus also gives Shibata’s work a softness that creates a beautiful balance with the rigidity of the human structures.


The opening weekend will be Thursday 2 - Sunday 5 September from 14:00 - 18:00. Festive drinks will be served.