Metropolitan Harmony

A focus on the hidden dimensions of metropolitan life characterises Brian Pearson’s new photographic series at Robin Rice Gallery, New York; the images capture poignant moments of quietude that seem far from the activity of some of the world’s most densely populated areas. The artist takes Tokyo as the central focus of his second solo exhibition at the gallery, gaining inspiration from the location’s combination of contemporary influences and enduring traditions.

Pearson reveals what is beneath the city’s luminous, neon, towering exterior, depicting a world of contemplation over the chaos of an area home to 35 million inhabitants. Titled after the architects who have designed the edifices that make up Tokyo’s recognisable skyline, the artist honours and pays tribute to those who contributed to the capital’s unique individuality. A sense of tranquillity pervades the series, transporting audiences away from the commotion of the mundane every day. However, these instances of peace simultaneously maintain a connection with reality: elements such as a plane or a traffic sign represent this unescapable relationship with modern life.

Tokyo is a city held between its traditional culture and contemporary development. Pearson, instead of capturing Japan’s customs through bamboo forests, waterfalls or shrines, uses high-rise buildings, park benches and suburban banks to depict the nation’s past and values. The work portrays the metropolis as a place in which order harmoniously interacts with disorder, powerfully juxtaposing the elements in an evocation of the Chinese Yin and Yang philosophy. Pedestrians at Tokyo International Forum (2015) muses on this balance: a couple stride across Rafael Viñoly’s 1997 outdoor plaza, their silhouetted legs fluid in motion, with the commotion of the vast urban landscape just out of frame. A moment of tranquil hypnosis is captured, the force of Tokyo is halted in an examination of the linear nature of time and metropolitan everyday life.

Brian Pearson, Robin Rice Gallery, New York, from 8 March – 23 April. For more information:

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1. Brian Pearson, Pedestrians at the Tokyo International Forum by Rafael Viñoly (2015). Courtesy of the artist and Robin Rice Gallery.