Nobuyoshi Araki (Tokyo, 1940) is one of the most celebrated Japanese artists of our time. Ever since he started his photographic career in the mid-sixties, Araki has taken tens of thousands of photographs and published more than 450 photobooks. His photographs are personal, indifferent, random, accidental, prurient, erotic, anarchistic, touching, vulgar, sentimental. The cumulative effect is overwhelming.
Araki is an international master of photography, noted for his seemingly detached Kinbaku-photographs; Kinbaku, 'the art of tight binding', is a Japanese style of rope bondage. Simultaneously his work is very intimate and personal, often closely related to his Tokyo surroundings and to the memories of the marriage with his late wife Yoko until her death in 1990. Only by distancing himself through his lens, keeping life at an arms length, the artist can truly approach reality and eventually reconcile life and death?
Besides the series 'August and Megumi Kagurazaka', during the past months the 74-year-old Araki also worked on his new series 'qARADISE', which consists of dark photographs of flowers and dolls. Moreover, he has rediscovered his never exhibited series 'Alluring Hell' from 2008, with erotic black-and-white photographs overpainted by Araki himself. Also an extensive collection of fading polaroids from the 'Impossible' series is shown. These recent series set the tone of the exhibition; they mirror Araki's acceptance of, as well as his resistance to decline. While at first slightly alienating, in particular for the non-Japanese observer, both the individual images and the assembly of series may eventually bring about a feeling of transiency and melancholia–Araki's work has its very own, touching beauty. The exhibition allows the visitor to unravel the complexity and obsessions of a photographer of great international importance. Nobuyoshi Araki is the inspiration and starting point for the winter issue of Foam Magazine, which aims to examine his affect and influence on contemporary photography.
Parallel to this show in the gallery, Araki's retrospective and his recent works will be shown in FOAM Photography Museum Amsterdam in an exhibition titled ARAKI Ojo Shashu - Photography for the After Life: Alluring Hell.
Press release courtesy Reflex Amsterdam.