It’s LIQUID International Contest – First Edition 2012: Tetsugo Hyakutake

Tetsugo Hyakutake, Japan – “Pathos and Irony: Industrial Still-Life in Japan #1”, Archival Pigment Print, Kawasaki, Japan 2006

It’s LIQUID International Contest – First Edition 2012: Tetsugo Hyakutake

Tetsugo Hyakutake is the photography winner of It’s LIQUID International Contest – First Edition 2012 with his artwork “Pathos and Irony: Industrial Still-Life in Japan #1”.

Tetsugo Hyakutake is a fine art photographer and a video artist. Hyakutake was born in Japan. After working for Fujifilm Imaging in Tokyo, Hyakutake moved to Philadelphia and graduated from the University of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography, receiving the Promising Artist Award and Society for Photographic Education Mid-Atlantic Region Scholarship Award.

Tetsugo Hyakutake, Japan – “Lime Stone Quarry”, Archival Pigment Print, Tokyo, Japan 2007

In 2009, Hyakutake obtained a Master’s Degree of Fine Arts from the University of Pennsylvania where he was awarded a Toby Devan Lewis Fellowship. His work has been exhibited in Tokyo, Philadelphia, New York, Madrid, Singapore and he is currently represented by Gallery339 in Philadelphia. Hyakutake’s work has been acquired for a number of notable corporate and public collections, including those of BlackRock, Fidelity Investments, the West Collection, Vertical Screen, and the Library of Congress.

Hyakutake’s work is fueled by historical, economic, and social issues of post-war Japan connected to his own personal experiences and the voices of his generation. Hyakutake explores the contradictions inherent in the Japanese landscape and how those contradictions offers clues to understanding Japan today.

Tetsugo Hyakutake, Japan – “Goshiki Zakura Ohashi”, Archival Pigment Print, Tokyo, Japan 2010

As a child of Japan’s “lost decade”, the period following the bursting of Japan’s asset bubble, Tetsugo Hyakutake has found himself trying to understand what it means to be Japanese in today’s world. In the 1990s, the economic success and industrial invincibility that had characterized the nation for decades gave way to economic uncertainty. Many of the ideas that formed the foundation of national identity unraveled, leaving a sense of confusion and frustration, particularly among Hyakutake’s generation. They saw their futures, which had seemed predetermined, rapidly eroding and leaving no obvious alternatives.

Tetsugo Hyakutake, Japan – “Pathos and Irony: Industrial Still-Life in Japan #17”, Archival Pigment Print, Yokohama, Japan 2007

Hyakutake’s work focuses primarily on industry and the infrastructure of modern society (bridges, railroads, highways), through which he seeks to decipher recent Japanese history and culture. Hyakutake’s conflicted relationship with these sites comes across in his ambiguous images. The grandeur of the structures suggests his admiration for the role that industrialization played in making the Japan of today: a manufacturing superpower, the second largest economy in the world, a country rebuilt from the ashes of the Second World War. Yet the images are not robust celebrations of national pride. There is an uncertainty to these structures. They have an ephemeral quality, as if they might disperse in the night air-beautiful dreams rather than steel and concrete.

Tetsugo Hyakutake, Japan – “Nihonbashi #2”, Archival Pigment Print, Tokyo, Japan 2010

Hyakutake’s industrial sites are also more than cold documents; they are suffused with a surprising sense of humanity, evoking the lives and toil that stand behind these monuments. The industrial miracle of the post war era clearly returned Japan from defeat to a remarkable economic victory, but Hyakutake ponders whether the price was too high and the victory too fleeting.

Tetsugo Hyakutake
Photo and Video Artist

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