Alicja Dobrucka

Untitled #11, Nico series, 2016/2020


41 x 51 cm

Edition of 5 + 1 AP, number 1 of 5


Japanese tree silhouettes are a defining feature of their culture. The ¬†street photography of Alicja Dobrucka captures this. She then transforms it into a contemporary subject. During a period in Tokyo, she spent her time photographing the neighbourhoods of Sumida-Ku and Koto-Ku. The area nearby is famous for its Sumo wrestling centre, as well as the Hokusai Museum. The tree within the work references those within Hokusai’s work. Similarly, the colours of the wall and barrier echo his palette. Through careful framing of her lens, Dobrucka is able to recreate one of the master’s scenes with a contemporary eye. This links to work by other contemporary photographers who reference Hokusia. Jeff Wall’s ‘A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai)‘, for example, is based on a woodcut, ‘Travellers Caught in a Sudden breeze at Ejiri’ (c.1832) from a famous portfolio, ‘The Thirty-six Views of Fuji‘, by the Japanese painter and printmaker Katsushika Hokusai.

Likewise, as with all works in the Nico series, the sense of shadow is crucially important within the work. For instance, light and highlight is utilised by the artist. The night light illuminating the streets brings out eery colours and unexpected shadows. It makes the artist realise that the surfaces of these buildings are portraits in their own right. They become the perfect counterparts to the traditional portraits within the series.