Wabi-Sabi by Damien Drew

@ Black Eye Gallery


The Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi is an appreciation of a transient and understated beauty in the modest, imperfect, ephemeral or decayed. Photographer Damien Drew’s exhibition expresses this notion through his perspective of modern day Japan.

Japan has one of the world’s largest economies and a population that is shrinking due to low birthrates. With employment opportunities predominantly found in large urban centres there has been a marked decline in rural regions. Drew’s images seek to document that which is temporary and to celebrate its beauty in turn. The viewer is invited to consider details
and qualities in paired scenes that may be inconspicuous, congruent or contrasting. In a world that is increasingly homogenised through global retail chains, Drew carefully observes the melancholy beauty of the many towns and villages that have now become neglected.

“We do not dislike everything that shines, but we do prefer a pensive lustre to a shallow brilliance, a murky light that, whether in a stone or an artefact, bespeaks a sheen of antiquity. We love things that bear the marks of grime, soot, and weather, and we love the colours and the sheen that call to mind the past that made them.”

- From Jun'ichiro Tanizaki, ‘In Praise of Shadows’ 1933

Damien Drew is also an award-winning Art Director and Production Designer whose feature film credits include Alien Covenant, Superman Returns, Star Wars, The Great Gatsby and The Matrix films.

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