Contemporary artist Hiroshi Sugimoto established the Odawara Art Foundation in 2009 in order to foster the advancement of Japanese culture while adopting an international perspective, by producing and promoting theater, from classical theater arts to avant-garde stage art; conserving and exhibiting art objects and other items; conveying traditional performing arts to younger generations; and promoting arts and culture in a manner that transcends historical periods and genres.
Nestled against the sheer outer rim of the Hakone Mountains and overlooking Sagami Bay, the Enoura district of Odawara City is a precious piece of Japan’s natural heritage, with a landscape of remarkable beauty preserved in unspoiled condition. This is the site of the Odawara Art Foundation’s Enoura Observatory, which opened to the public from October 2017. It is our fervent hope that with the cooperation of the Odawara municipal government, this facility will make wide-ranging contributions to the advancement of arts and culture and to the vitality of the local community.
Odawara Art Foundation
In the history of humanity, art was born at the same time as human consciousness. Art, from its very inception, has been intertwined with religion, serving to explain the mysteries of world we live in. Painting, sculpture, music, and theater: over the years and into the new millennium, throughout numerous transformations, these arts have been passed down to our generation. Now it is our time to reconsider how humanity is to engage with the world. By looking back at the history of art, we can gain important insights into how we have dealt with this world in the past and consider the path humanity must take for the future.
Odawara Art Foundation was formed to assist in the reconsideration of history. We do this by producing and promoting classical theater arts and avant-garde stage art; by holding public exhibitions of objects d'art and other items from the Sugimoto Collection and other sources; and by carrying out research into art of all genres and periods, from prehistory to contemporary, architecture to performance art.
By promoting the spread of the artistic culture of Japan through performances, exhibitions, and research, Odawara Art Foundation offers a chance to take another look at how humans and nature interact. Once the world was steeped in mystery, but now with our access to knowledge about so many things, we need to seek out new horizons for human awareness.
Hiroshi Sugimoto’s signature practice spans the mediums of performing arts, photography, sculpture, installation and architecture. His art deals with history and temporal existence through a variety of subject matters. He explores issues surrounding time, empiricism, and metaphysics that bridge Eastern and Western ideologies while examining the nature of perception and the origins of consciousness.
Sugimoto was born in Tokyo in 1948 and moved to the U.S.A. in 1970. He has lived in NYC since 1974. In 2008, he founded the New Material Research Laboratory, an architectural design office, and in 2009 he established the Odawara Art Foundation.
1988 – The Mainichi Art Award (Japan)
2001 – The Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography (Sweden)
2009 – The 21st Praemium Imperiale (Japan)
2010 – The Medal with Purple Ribbon (Japan)
2013 – Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France)
2017 – Bunkakorosha (Person of Cultural Merit, Japan)
2023 – Member of the Japan Art Academy
"Time Exposed," "Utusu na zou," "Origin of Art" "Kagero Nikki" published by Shinchosha, "Sense of Space" published by Magazine House, and "Art and Leisure" published by Hearst Fujingaho, "Enoura Kitan" published by Iwanami Shoten.
※ Odawara Art Foundation has loaned artworks from the Foundation's collection to both national and international institutions for numerous exhibitions.
Geometry began with our awareness of the circle and the triangle. If you stand on high ground and gaze at the horizon, what appears to be a straight line is, in fact, a segment from a long arc. If you stand on a mountaintop in a remote island and follow the horizon with your eyes, you realize that its end reconnects with its beginning. This is how people realized that the limit of their field of vision is described by a circle. The sun and the stars at night are describing circles as well. The moment that people became conscious of the circle was also the moment that they realized they had consciousness. It was the moment they made the leap from animal to human.
Once the circle had made its way into human consciousness, it was followed by the triangle. That is linked to our consciousness of distance. Using the distance between two known points, humankind could calculate the distance to a third point. Here are the origins of triangulation: now people could measure the land upon which they lived and navigate the seas by the stars.
The triangle was used as the so-called dragon scale element in ancient Japanese coats of arms. Dragons appear as symbols of chaos in myths from every part of the world. The story of the eight-headed, eight-tailed dragon Yamata no Orochi is a famous Japanese legend. Whoever vanquishes the chaos and establishes order proves his right to rule. Thus, when Susa-no-Ō slays the dragon Orochi, one of the three symbols of imperial rule, the Herb-Quelling Great Sword, emerges from its split body.
My concept for the logo of the Odawara Art Foundation was to combine the letters O and A, the first letters of “Odawara” and “Art.” The resulting mark is simultaneously Western and Japanese, since it can be read both as letters from the alphabet, while resembling an ancient Japanese design. When humankind first acquired language, speech supposedly started with vowel sounds: “Oh!” to express surprise and “Ah!” to express admiration. That makes “OA” a very apt symbol for the beginnings of language.
Lastly, it was in 1590 that the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi crushed the local Odawara Hōjō clan, one of Japan’s powerful warrior clans. Their coat of arms was made up of three dragon scales.
I designed the Odawara Art Foundation logo to symbolize the multiple layers of human memory stretching all the way back to ancient times.