SOHEI NISHINO | MOUNTAIN LINE, MOUNT FUJI, 2022
Now on view at Michael Hoppen Gallery is the newest mountainscape by Sohei Nishino, Mountain Line, Mount Fuji, 2022. It is a follow up his 2019 work to Mountain Lines, Everest, created with his signature technique. Nishino combines photography, collage, and psychogeography to create large scale experiential prints of urban and natural landscapes, constructed with thousands of images.
Drawing inspiration from 18th century Japanese mapmaking, Nishino uses photographs as geographical representation, but with a subjective point of view. From a distance, his maps are almost abstract. Each work is pieced together with images of both people and places, and it is not until we examine closer that the full experience unfolds. (Details below)
During the pandemic, Nishino found himself spending much more time in his studio. Located in Heda, Japan, it overlooks the beautiful Sugura Bay, behind which Japan’s highest mountain, Mount Fuji, rises majestically in the distance. Its distinctive silhouette is steeped in Japanese culture and history, and the mountain holds a mythical status. Named after the Buddhist fire goddess Fuchi, this dormant volcano is the holiest of Japan’s “Three Holy Mountains”, and revered by Buddhists as a gateway to another world.
And so in 2021, Nishino decided to make Mount Fuji his new muse.
Nishino embarked on the long journey to create a superlative piece of work on this iconic Japanese symbol. He ascended Mount Fuji on several occasions during the official climbing season which is only two months long, July and August, when most of the snow has melted. Walking up and down the paths of Fuji, he documented the bustling activities of Buddhist priests, families, and visitors who make the pilgrimage up to the summit year round. One can see the variety of people upon close view.
Nishino climbed during the day and at night, as many do, both of which are represented and integrated for the viewer as they ascend the work. We see dark areas in the piece, the pathways lit by flame torches. With over 25,000 individual photographs assembled in one giant collage, Nishino pieced together his own personal vision of Mount Fuji, but one we experience with him. The sun rising illuminates the peak as we approach the summit and climb into the morning horizon.
With Japan in isolated lockdown, Fuji took on a new role to comfort and inspire the people that came to climb its slopes, and with Nishino’s experiential style it continues to do so in this work.