Hiroji Kubota


June 1 – July 16, 2017

Hiroji Kubota, At the Kim Chaek Ironworks; the billboard shows Kim Il-sung peering into a furnace, Chongjin, North Korea, 1986, dye-transfer print, 20 x 24 inches/50.8 x 61 cm © Hiroji Kubota/Magnum Photos
Hiroji Kubota, A mass game to celebrate Kim Il-Sung's birthday at the hundred-thousand-seat Kim Il-sung Stadium, Pyongyang, North Korea, 1982, dye-transfer print, 20 x 24 inches/50.8 x 61 cm © Hiroji Kubota/Magnum Photos
Hiroji Kubota, A private bridal school, where ladies go through basic training to seek well-to-do future husbands, Kanagawa, Japan, 1966, platinum print, 20 x 24 inches/50.8 x 61 cm © Hiroji Kubota/Magnum Photos
Hiroji Kubota, Pyongyang, North Korea, 1978, platinum print, 20 x 24 inches/50.8 x 61 cm © Hiroji Kubota/Magnum Photos

About This Exhibition

Singapore, April 25, 2017—Sundaram Tagore Singapore is pleased to present a retrospective of iconic images by renowned Magnum photographer Hiroji Kubota. The artist will be on hand to discuss his work, including his travels in North Korea, during the opening reception and a Saturday-afternoon talk.

More than one hundred of the artist’s images will be on view, including color dye-transfer prints photographed between 1978 and 2003 and black-and-white platinum prints from 1961 to 1989. Kubota traveled the globe to capture historic events and gained rare access to countries including North Korea and China in the 1970s when travel was still restricted. His images range from meditative scenes of Burmese monks by Myanmar’s sacred golden rock to candid portraits of North Korean youth learning to sing. 
Rooted in his experience of Japan, ravaged by destruction and famine at the end of World War II, Hiroji Kubota’s work is characterized by a desire to find beauty and honor in human experience. He was born in Tokyo in 1939 and began his career assisting Magnum photographers René Burri, Burt Glinn and Elliott Erwitt on their visit to Japan in 1961 before becoming a Magnum photographer himself. Over a span of more than five decades, he produced major bodies of work on the United States, Japan, China, North and South Korea and Southeast Asia.
Hiroji Kubota was introduced to the dye-transfer printing process at the urging of a friend in the late 1980s. This costly and complicated process used to create high-quality multi-color materials for print advertising was mostly phased out by the 1960s, but a few printers who continued to use it for photographic art. One of those printers, Nino Mondhe—who printed for Irving Penn and Harry Callahan—was known for using twelve colors instead of the traditional three. Kubota, dazzled by the spectrum of vibrant color Mondhe achieved, produced fifty-two prints and two triptychs with the master printer over a twenty-year period, until the materials ran out and Mondhe eventually closed his studio. This exhibition offers an extraordinary opportunity to view Kubota’s collection of color images produced with a rarely used technique that is impossible to duplicate today.
Hiroji Kubota’s numerous publications include China (1985), From Sea to Shining Sea: A Portrait of America (1992), Out of the East: Transition and Tradition in Asia (1997) and Japan (2004). In 2015, the Aperture Foundation organized a retrospective for the artist in partnership with Sundaram Tagore Gallery New York. The show was presented in conjunction with the release of Hiroji Kubota Photographer (Aperture, 2015), the first comprehensive survey of the artist’s work covering more than fifty years of his extraordinary life and world travels. The book includes all his key bodies of work, including photographs from his many extended trips throughout China, Burma, the United States, North and South Korea and his home country, Japan.
Kubota’s work has been exhibited around the world, including at the International Center of Photography, New York; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Tokyo Photographic Art Museum; and CAFA Art Museum, Beijing. He is based in Odawara, Japan.

Back To Top