Melbourne-based photographer Isamu Sawa has a new exhibition, REMNANT, which more closely resembles abstract paintings than your average photography.

Sawa created a name for himself through his editorial work, shooting for international brands including Mercedes Benz and Penfolds. His portraits of famous faces, including Jean-Paul Gaultier, are published everywhere from Vogue to Vanity Fair.

More recently however, Sawa’s work has taken an artistic turn, focusing on his visual art practice and exploring a particular fascination with the micro world. For REMNANT, Sawa’s subject was a humble 1.2 by 2.4m workbench he discovered at a picture framer.

Sawa spent months studying the bench top-down, inspecting the surface as though it were a vast aerial landscape and magnifying passport photo-sized sections that caught his eye. The result is a series of 10 large, highly detailed prints that capture the layered chaos of artistic process.

“I began seeing things in the bench,” says Sawa. “By going in close and blowing up different sections I discovered artic coastlines, vast mountain ranges, even cave paintings – it was very exciting. Sometimes it felt like satellite imagery from another planet or abstract art.”

Layers of accumulated paint residue, glue, stains, and tool marks overlap to form random and complex patterns of shape and colour. Viewed in micro detail, the remnants take on a new dimension, becoming art in their own right; the inverse images of countless other works of art.

Sawa wants viewers of REMNANT to lose themselves in the paintings, likening it to children staring up at the clouds and finding different shapes. “People see different things but they always see something,” he says. “I love that about them.”

Printed on cotton rag paper with archival pigment ink, each of the 10 REMNANT prints are limited to eight editions. They’re on display at Sawa’s namesake gallery in Collingwood until March 9.

 

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[Images courtesy of Isamu Sawa.]

 

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