This exhibition draws together work from the artist’s five-year project of photographing the geiko and maiko of Kyoto, Japan. Through numerous visits and interviews, Robert has been able to grow his understanding of and connection to the vibrant traditional communities and the skilled artists carrying on a tradition that dates back centuries.
The exhibition explores this unique world through four visual perspectives:
‘Seeing Geiko’ presents images of geiko and maiko in which their own gaze is central to the image. These works can be read as frames within imagined longer stories. The viewer is invited to confront their own assumptions, inform themself more deeply and re-imagine the continuing narratives.
‘The Encounter’ explores the detailed preparation for the guests of maiko, geiko and jikata, and their nuanced engagement with them.
‘The Gei in Geiko‘ honours the core art forms, especially dance and music, which are at the heart of each geiko’s practice and represented by the character ‘gei’ (art) in the words geiko (and geisha).
‘The Tale of Princess Kaguya’ views the floating world through the lens of a thousand year old Japanese story. A senior geiko, dressed in historical robes, takes the role of the princess. Robert’s work seeks to explore the ‘liminal’ quality of geiko who float between the modern and ancient worlds and between royalty and commoner.
Robert van Koesveld’s work is primarily involved with world cultures and their preservation. His personal goal is to make works that communicate ‘spirit of place’ and portraits that show the quality of ‘presence’ in those he photographs. Prior to his photography career he was for many years a psychotherapist and educator and this influences how he works as a photographer. Robert works for a synergy between hand, eye and heart and for there to be an emotional engagement between the subject and the viewer.
His book ‘Geiko and Maiko of Kyoto’ won the Australian Professional Photography Award for the Best Photo Book of the Year by the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers.