India, Where Prayer Echoes, an exhibition of photography by Kenro Izu will be on view at Howard Greenberg Gallery from January 11 - February 23, 2013. The exhibition will include 24 platinum palladium prints of portraits and landscapes taken across India between 2008 and 2012.
New York-based Kenro Izu has traveled to India frequently since his first visit in 1996. A rather unusual invitation inspired his interest in India that year. The artist was invited by a family in Varanasi, considered the spiritual capital of India, to observe a cremation of a family member from beginning to end. The three-and-a-half hour ceremony took place by the River Ganges. The body was covered in fabric and decorated with flowers and at the end nothing remained as the ashes were swept into the river. "It was an amazing experience. I was quite interested in the family's attitudes. There was no weeping; only calm talking and an occasional joke. It was so different from my culture," notes Izu, who was born in Japan in 1949, and moved to New York City in 1970.
Following in the tradition of the 19th century travel photographer, Izu transports an enormous large-format camera with 14 x 20 inch plates and related equipment, weighing in excess of 300 pounds. His photographic vision of mysterious light and majestic landscapes is complemented by his masterful use of the classic platinum process. The tactile surface qualities, supreme clarity, and rich tonalities of Izu's platinum prints create a perfect synthesis of craft and vision.
Among the highlights in the exhibition are portraits of sadhus or holy men that renounce their everyday lives, existing like monks. Seeking enlightenment in the Hindu religion, sadhus live in forests, caves and temples all over India. One portrait, Erola #460, Maharashtra, India, 2010, depicts a man who left his successful life and family at age 45, more than a decade ago. Seeking the final stage of enlightenment, like all sadhus, he has no home and no possessions.
Two sisters with their hands clasped in Dwarka #433, Gujarat, India, 2010, are visitors to a sacred temple located in the Western most part of India. Many of the pilgrims, including these sisters, wear exotic dress on their visits. Dwarka is located in Gujarat, the state where Gandi was born.
One of the seven holiest cities to the Hindus of India, Kanchipuram features spectacular temple architecture dating back to before the sixth century. Three men with the lower half of their bodies clothed in the traditional dhoti of cloth wrapped to resemble a long skirt, stand front of a temple in Kanchipuram #650, Tamilnadu, India, 2012. In Rajigir #247, Bihar, India, 2009, a monk is praying and resting by an extraordinary Bodhi tree. The famous tree is believed to be near where Buddha spent several months meditating and delivering some of his most important sermons.
The exhibition will be complemented by a small group of still lifes of flowers made by Izu between the mid 1980s through the 1990s.
In 1995, while working on his series Light Over Ancient Angkor in Cambodia, Izu witnessed the death of child due to lack of medical care. That year he founded the not-for-profit organization Friends Without a Border. Four years later, the Angkor Hospital for children opened and has since treated more than 1,000,000 children. In 2013, a new initiative will begin in Laos. Friends Without a Border has held a number of photography auction fundraisers, among other events, in many cities around the world. As a result, Izu has inspired countless people by using the arts to achieve humanitarian goals.
Work by Kenro Izu can be found in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum, New York; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; among others. Born in 1949 in Osaka, Japan, Kenro Izu lives and works in Rhinebeck, New York.