Shoji Ueda “Mode in Dunes”

Dates: Feb 24 – Mar 27, 2012
Location: Taka Ishii Gallery Photography / Film (Roppongi, Tokyo)
Closing reception in commemoration of the 99th anniversary of Shoji Ueda’s birth: Mar 27, 18:00 – 20:00


Taka Ishii Photography / Film is pleased to present the solo exhibition of Shoji Ueda. We will be exhibiting approximately 10 modern color prints from Ueda’s series “Mode in Dunes” as well as several black and white prints printed by Ueda himself in the 1990s from the same series.

When I was young, I used to tell myself I should go to the dunes when at a loss for a theme. The vast dunes that lay before me like the body of a naked woman presented a world of typical simplification of sand, air and water. In terms of them being materials for landscape photography, it became “a picture” from whichever direction I faced it. By then forest planting had started. I mentioned to someone involved, “I’m disappointed to see the scene of the dunes disappearing”. In turn, I was scolded: “Consider the nearby farmhouses will you, they’re struggling with the sand blowing off the dunes”. Nowadays, they are uprooting those planted trees and expanding the dunes. Changes over time can be funny.

Shoji Ueda
Shoji Ueda, Dunes, Parco Publishing, 1986

Born in Sakaiminato, Tottori prefecture (former Sakai-machi, Sakai-gun) in 1913, Ueda received high acclaim for his work through his participation in amateur photography clubs and publication of his works in photo magazines. Until he passed away in 2000, he had permanently based himself in his hometown, producing his most notable “Children the Year Around” (1955-1970), the Dunes series which were set in the Tottori Sand Dunes, and a nostalgic series portraying various locales in Izumo.

Having lost his beloved wife in 1983, Ueda photographed a catalog for fashion brand TAKEO KIKUCHI with the dunes in the background; this at the suggestion of his second son Mitsuru, an artistic director in an advertising firm. He then began undertaking numerous fashion shoots, which he had never experienced in the past – most notably BRUTUS magazine’s fashion pages (1985) as well as advertising shots for agnès b and Kindware (1986, 1989 respectively). These works, which were later compiled into the series “Mode in Dunes”, became a turning point for Ueda’s grieving process, giving him an opportunity to revisit his creative drive.