Rinko Kawauchi: Illuminance
Text by David Chandler
In 2001, Rinko Kawauchi launched her career with the simultaneous publication of three astonishing photobooks--Utatane, Hanabi andHanako--firmly establishing herself as one of the most innovative newcomers to contemporary photography, not just in Japan, but across the globe. In the years that followed, she published other notable monographs, including Aila (2004), The Eyes, the Ear (2005) and Semear (2007). And now, ten years after her precipitous entry onto the international stage, Aperture has published Illuminance, the latest volume of Kawauchi's work and the first to be published outside of Japan. Kawauchi's photography has frequently been lauded for its nuanced palette and offhand compositional mastery, as well as its ability to incite wonder via careful attention to tiny gestures and the incidental details of her everyday environment. As Sean O'Hagan, writing in The Guardian in 2006, noted, "there is always some glimmer of hope and humanity, some sense of wonder at work in the rendering of the intimate and fragile." In Illuminance, Kawauchi continues her exploration of the extraordinary in the mundane, drawn to the fundamental cycles of life and the seemingly inadvertent, fractal-like organization of the natural world into formal patterns. Gorgeously produced as a clothbound volume with Japanese binding, this impressive compilation of previously unpublished images--which garnered Kawauchi a nomination for the Deutsche Börse Prize--is proof of her unique sensibility and ongoing appeal to lovers of photography.