artist by the name of Toshibata Shibata was well known
throughout his native land of Japan, although his artistic
imprint would soon expand to other countries as well.
While he had incredible talent in many areas, his
best work was actually as a landscape photographer.
While woodblock prints had been the rage during the
17th and 18th centuries, by the 19th
century, photography had become the new form of art for
Shibata had a long and successful career
photographing various landscape scenes.
However, his work from 1983 to 1986 was unique,
actually helping to make him a better-known artist.
During this short, three-year period, Shibata
photographed 53 gas stations around the country but only
during nighttime hours.
However, these photographs were produced in Japan but
Shibata had taken an original series known as
Hiroshige Ando’s 53
Stations of Tokaido, which was created in the 1830s, and
recreated his own version.
The contemporary interpretation with sparkling lights
and nearby hotels decorated in neon was a huge success.
Making Shibata’s series his own, he would choose
out-of-the-way or unknown gas stations and hotels to be the
focus of his work.
photographing gas stations at night might sound strange or
even boring, the truth is that Shibata’s ability to focus
on detail made each pieces highly stimulating and exciting.
This amazing talent catapulted the series to stardom.
Interestingly, all of the photographs taken were done
with black and white film, almost creating a vision of old
and new. This perfect balance was not appreciated by all but those who
understood the focus of the series loved it.