SOL LDN: 4th of July – 15th of July

Michael Kenna is one of the most acclaimed landscape photographers of his generation. His photographs have been the subject of some 50 monographs and are held in the collections of over 100 museums worldwide.

Kenna travels around the world constantly photographing the varied landscapes of the planet, including China, the United States of America, Brazil, Czech Republic and Egypt. However, it is Japan that he has returned to most frequently. For over three decades, Kenna has repeatedly visited Japan and its surrounding islands, captivated both by its philosophy and landscape. With an unparalleled simplicity and purity, Kenna has frequently captured the snow-covered island Hokkaido, presenting its starkness of nature and impassive horizons with artistic flair and emotional substance.
With an acute eye for detecting interesting compositions and arrangements, Kenna’s vision of the landscape sees the human dwarfed by the grandeur of the natural world. In this sense, he works in a tradition that owes more to the Romantic landscape painters Caspar David Friedrich, John Constable and J.M.W. Turner than to trends of his contemporaries. He transforms the mundane into the extraordinary by registering the presence and absence of the human in the landscape.

Kenna currently lives in Seattle. His photographs are held in permanent collections at the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He has been exhibited globally including solo exhibitions in the United States, India, Japan and South Korea. Kenna is also the recipient of numerous awards including the Imogen Cunningham Award in 1981 and in 2003 he was made an Honorary Master of Arts at the Brooks Institute, California.

“My first trip to Japan was in 1987 and I was hooked immediately. There are characteristics of the Japanese landscape that resemble and remind me of my homeland of England. Japan is a country of islands, surrounded by water. It is a place that has been lived in and worked on for centuries. It is geographically small and spaces are quite intimate in scale. I feel there is a powerful sense of atmosphere that resides in the Japanese soil, and as I like to photograph memories, traces and stories, I feel strangely at home wandering around this country. If one spends time in Japan, I think it is impossible not to be influenced and seduced by the Japanese sense of aesthetics, kanji characters, minimalism of artwork, and reverence of certain traditions.” – Michael Kenna