UNIFORM: Japan Photos by Harold David

14 November 2009 – 31 January 2010

Uniform: Japan Photos by Harold David presents large format photographic portraits of Japanese workers (and their uniforms) by Australian/American fashion photographer Harold David – an intriguing synergy of community engagement, social history and contemporary art.

Taken during residencies in Japan in 2008 and 2009 David’s joyous colour portraits celebrate ‘working people’ and their ‘uniforms’. With humour and affection David cleverly combines the glamour of fashion photography with deadpan photo-reportage to valorise that which is usually considered ‘unglamorous’, and to give ‘sheen’ to the seemingly utilitarian and mundane.

There is a great history of international fashion photographers successfully combining commercial, editorial and Fine Art practices – the much underrated British photographer John Deakin (1912-1972) and the acclaimed American Richard Avedon (1923-2004) two cases in point; and it is within this lineage that we place the work of Harold David.

Apparent in David’s Uniform works is the respect shown by the photographer to his sitters; and the reciprocal trust, ease and goodwill of those captured by the photographer. No mean feat indeed. Carefully considered, meticulously rendered – and without saccharine or pretence, David’s work explores class, gender and glamour – all via the idiosyncratic uniforms of a reputedly globalised world.

Since 2004 Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest has developed a number of highly successful exhibitions for presentation in Australia and Japan. Using the City of Penrith’s ‘Sister and Friendship City’ relationships as catalyst and structure these include Shimai Toshi (2004) and Tracksuits of St Marys (2008). Uniform: Japan Photos by Harold David is the latest addition to this ongoing and very enriching bilateral cultural initiative.

Harold David 
American born photographer Harold David is one of Australia’s premier fashion and portraiture photographers. He has worked extensively with some of Australia’s leading magazines including Instyle, Yen, Vogue Australia, Harpers Bazaar, Marie Claire, Sunday Magazine, Australian Financial Review Magazine, Summer Winter, Oyster, Grazia and Russh. His editorial clients abroad include The Face (UK), Elle (UK), Man (Netherlands) and B Magazine (UK).

Harold David’s photographic art frequently collapse the orthodoxies of fashion photography and political photo-documentation to valorise the seemingly ‘unglamorous’ and give ‘sheen’ to the utilitarian and mundane. Never patronising, David’s aesthetic democracy explores matters of class, gender, economic position – and beauty.

Harold David exhibitions include Surface, Sydney Fringe Festival; Texas Trailer Park, Rubyayre Gallery; Rapture, Rubyayre Gallery; Runway, Australian Centre for Photography; Others, Art Gallery of NSW; Tracksuits of St Marys, Penrith Regional Art Gallery & The Lewers Bequest, Matto City History Museum (Japan), Fujieda City History Museum (Japan), CarriageWorks, Sydney; Still, Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest.

Master Works: The Prints of Tetsuo Aoki
Tetsuo Aoki is a Fujieda City based master printmaker specialising in monochromatic woodblock printmaking. Utilising the inspiration and technique of traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e wood block printing Aoki creates striking images of contemporary social activity, interaction and movement. This exhibition is the first Australian exhibition of Aoki’s extraordinary work.

Tatami World
An installation of miniature tatami mats created by the Ohura Pty Ltd tatami makers of Hakusan City (a small family factory creating tatami since 1968) in celebration of the ongoing friendship between Penrith and Hakusan City.

Terra Cotta & Ceramics: Works by Yamase Shingo and Kado Mitsuo
An exhibition of ceramic works by Hakusan City based artists Yamase Shingo and Kado Mitsuo. Kado Mitsuo studies ceramics at the Uruwashi Gallery, Hakusan, and is currently Mayor of Hakusan City. Yamase Shingo is a Hakusan City based sculptor. He is currently a steering committee member of the Japan Sculpture Association, is a Vice President of the Hakusan City Matto Cultural Association, President of the Hakusan City Matto Art Association, and a Director of the Uruwashi Citizen’s Gallery, Hakusan City.

Project Development and Participating Organisations
Since 2004 Penrith Performing & Visual Arts has presented a number of cultural programs in Fujieda City and Hakusan City, including two major exhibitions of contemporary Australian art – Shimai Toshi at the Fujieda City History Museum (2004), and The Tracksuits of St Marys at Fujieda City History Museum and Matto History Museum, Hakusan City (both in 2007). A program of opera and classical piano performances by Australian and Japanese artists was also presented at the Hakusan City Cultural Centre in 2007.

Funded by Penrith Performing & Visual Arts, project development included residency and photographic visits to Japan in July 2008 and April 2009. Australian and Japanese organisations contributing to the 2009 Celebrations exhibition program include:

  • Penrith Performing & Visual Arts Ltd
  • Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest, Sydney
  • Penrith City Council
  • Fujieda History Museum. Fujieda City
  • Fujieda International Friendship Society
  • Fujieda City Council
  • Hakusan International Association
  • Hakusan City Council
  • Matto City History Museum
  • Uruwashi Citizen’s Gallery, Hakusan.

Future Exhibition
UNIFORM: Japan Photos by Harold David will be presented in Japan in late 2010 at the Uruwashi Cultural Centre, Hakusan City (12/10 -29/10/10) and Fujieda City History Museum (4/11-2/12/10).

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