Oakville Galleries at Centennial Square
Tokyo presents a special problem to anyone who hopes to take its picture. It has no focused image. It lacks those settings and iconic buildings that make Paris or New York visually coherent; it would be hard to imagine a single photograph saying “That's Tokyo," the way certain pictures say “That's Rome. Tokyo is not a city but a multitude of cities.
Ken Straiton is one photographer who has been remarkably successful at capturing a good deal of Tokyo's essence. His compelling Tokyo registers the kaleidoscopic intensity of life in Tokyo.
Having grown up in Oakville, Ontario, Straiton continued his studies in Waterloo and in Vancouver, where he eventually pursued a career as a photo-artist. Since 1984 he has been living in Tokyo documenting the intensity of life that he observes there with the committed eyes of a resident, not a visitor.
His work is filled with monumental images and bizarre juxtapositions, but what is particularly noteworthy, is how he is able to gather successfully a collection of visual incidents into one picture. The real and the unreal coexist in art as they do in life, a paradox that is central to Straiton's photography. His photographs achieve their captivating radiance by documenting chance events. However, before he gives himself over to the free fall of the unforeseen, he anticipates the viewpoint and the timing of the shot—all of which ensures an exciting result.
Tokyo Stories is a fond and critical record of Tokyo in all its complexity and intimacy.