A rare example of only a handful of executed triptychs of this specific scale and subject, Black Sea, Ozuluce; Yellow Sea, Cheju; Red Sea, Safaga was initially conceived when the works were originally exhibited individually for the L'histoire de l'histoire exhibit at the Maison Hermes 8F Forum in Tokyo in 2003.
A scientifically inquisitive mind virtually uninterested in abstract concepts, it is no surprise that Hiroshi Sugimoto sought to re-invent and re-vamp the art historically-charged subject of the triptych as a trope. In Black Sea, Ozuluce; Yellow Sea, Cheju; Red Sea, Safaga, Sugimoto re-invents and ultimately enhances the color paradox by choosing to depict each sea-named for a specific color - with black and white film. He recalls, "I was curious about the name of the seas. I went to see for myself, but could not find the reasoning behind it." [unpublished interview with the artist, 2007].
Sugimoto compares this rare triptych to the work done by Constructivist Aleksandr Rodchenko and Minimalist Ellsworth Kelley. Both artists characterize painting as practical representations of color and shape in which each panel in a series of three matches the appropriate color to the corresponding title of the work. This theory of reducing art to its simplest terms is mirrored in the photographs resulting from Sugimoto's quest for tangibility. Black Sea, Ozuluce; Yellow Sea, Cheju; Red Sea, Safaga captures the basic elements of air, water and light in three evocative and utterly timeless seascapes. Although practicality may be found in the visual marriage of air, water and light, Sugimoto's mechanical rendering of exotic seascapes results in the more ethereal representations of truth and time.