Review 5 years Meijburg Art Commission: Hideyuki Ishibashi

An art commission can be an important anchor in an artist's career. For five years now, KPMG Meijburg & Co, partner of Unseen Amsterdam, has been inviting exhibiting photographers to submit a proposal for the Meijburg Art Commission. The resulting artwork is subsequently included in the company’s corporate collection. During Unseen 2018, Japanese artist Hideyuki Ishibashi was declared the winner of that year’s commission. In an interview with Ishibashi we learn more about how he went about this assignment and what the commission meant to him.

For the Meijburg Art Commission, Ishibashi was inspired by the architecture of the Meijburg headquarters in Amstelveen, and specifically by the reflection and the refraction of light through the large glass panes of the building.

Hideyuki Ishibashi: “I was inspired by the architecture of their offices, where  I was intrigued  by the  number  of  windows and the multitude of reflectionsthey produced. Ultimately this artwork will resonate with the reflections in the building,  reflecting  the  images  of  each  day,  each  visitor,  and  each  employee  as  they  become  part  of  the reflection  in  this  art piece.”

Hideyuki Ishibashi studied photography in Tokyo and in Tourcoing, an industrial city in Northern France. He has been living in Lille since 2011. In his practice he is concerned with the meaning and context that we adhere to images, in a time where we are overwhelmed by a seemingly endless amount of images. As a result, our concentration span has been collectively shortened. The artist wonders whether the ways in which we look at those images has been conditioned by advertising, street scenes and museums. For previous projects, Ishibashi used, among other things, photos he found at antique markets, anonymous images he came across online and Google Street View photos. He places them in a new context, to force us to look again, and above all, to look more intensly. He is also intrigued by the fact that cameras today are technologically advanced to such a level that they portray reality in an almost brighter and sharper way  than our own eyes can perceive in reality. As a result, according to Ishibashi, we have come to rely more on photographic images than on the direct observation of our own eyes. Ishibashi: "My work is always about the relationship between the photographic image and its representation.” Important writerslike Susan Sontag have also talked about the intricate relationship between photography and the "truth" or reality. For Ishibashi, it was the starting point for an investigation into the elements in older photos (and our perception) that make the image less clear: for example halations, gradations and movement blur. By collecting that "noise" in a new image, he captures a moment that has passed us by.

He did a lot of research for the Meijburg Art Commission, for example into the perfect amount of gelatin to achieve an optimal result. Ishibashi: “In order to grasp the transfiguration of the light and reflection of the Meijburg office building, I chose to record the sun movement and the reflection of the light from various points of view inside and outside of the building. From these records, I used the collage technique to reproduce the daily light movement in the office. Those images were printed on 49 glass plates with a Cyanotype [a photographic process in which a cyan-blue print is created after development, editor] and Orotone  [gold  tone]  process. Images  that are constructed  from  a  gelatin  side  and  a  glass  plate  side  have  different  reflective  properties  and sharpness depending on the angle from which it is viewed. In other words, the image is there, but it is constantly changing.”

The commission has also proven important for Ishibashi's career. Ishibashi: “My participation in the Meijburg Art Commission was a long and exciting journey for me. I felt quite honored to have the opportunity to create my very first commission and public project to be housed in the art collection of Meijburg. It allowed me to connect with a wider audience during and after the production. This project pushed me to step up my capacity. For instance all of the research before and after visiting the office, unknown technical problems during the production and its solutions, the complicated framing process and a lot of help from other people. I met a lot of professionals from different fields and it gave me the opportunity to create a new commission project in Northern France. Also, the research and fieldwork done for this commission work has given me several new ideas for current projects I am working on.”

Meijburg is proud of the contribution that the Meijburg Art Commission can make to the cultural sector. Wilbert Kannekens, Chairman of the Board of Meijburg & Co: “At Meijburg & Co we are convinced that art, and therefore artists, play an important role in social innovation - something we hold dear. For that reason, we are proud to be able to present the Meijburg Art Commission.” Ishibashi's specific artwork is also admired in the office. Esther Witbraad (Senior Service Manager Facilities at KPMG Meijburg & Co) says she "likes to be inspired by the reflection of light and images in Hideyuki's work".

The artist has one more piece of advice for his successors:

“I recommend participants to visit the office and see the actual exhibition space. Movement of the sun light inside the building is quite interesting and maybe it will give you some ideas.“

Join our mailing list - Stay informed

Stay up to date with the latest news