Nobuyoshi Araki “Polaroids”

Dates: Sep 4 – Oct 10, 2021
Location: SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery, Hong Kong
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SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery is pleased to present “Polaroids”, a solo exhibition of Nobuyoshi Araki from September 4 – October 10, 2021. Obsessed with the spontaneous nature of photography, Araki has persisted in a diaristic approach to his bold and unabashed photographic works for over half a century. By splitting the films apart, then splicing them together or applying paint on top, Araki has experimented and recreated imagery with the snapshots of nudes, flowers, toys, mundane objects and skyscapes captured through his vintage Polaroid camera. This exhibition will feature a selection of Polaroids shot between 2006 – 2016.

“Photography has never been a method of documentation for me, but a reflection of raw feelings and sensations born out of my experiences. This is why I only trust my libido—instead of “thinking” about photography, which is something I completely gave up some time ago. I don’t analyze the situation; I capture the moment.”

Nobuyoshi Araki, “Nobuyoshi Araki: Sakura”,
NOWNESS, London: Nowness, LLC. April 2013

I get close to it by pressing on the shutter; I get close to the ultimate point of truth, or of lies. It’s not about what I shoot. It’s about the everyday. It’s about pressing the shutter. What’s important is always right next to us.”

Nobuyoshi Araki, “I Like Everything”,
Mousse Magazine, Milan: Contrappunto S.r.l. December 2016

Araki’s deeply personal image-making practice comprises recurring subjects, ranging from rope-bound women and decaying flowers to the people, events, food and objects he encounters every day. The iconic series of skyscapes, or “shi-ku” (I-sky) as he termed, are taken from his balcony, which mirror his fleeting emotions, grievances and hope after the death of his late wife Yoko and beloved cat Chiro. Through the viewfinder, the artist ceaselessly explores the boundaries between life and death, sex and grief, everyday life and intimate moments.

“Polaroids” is the second exhibition of Araki at SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery, presenting altered Polaroid photographs along the lines of the “shi-shosetsu” (I-novel) narrative. In the “Arakiri” series (2015), cut-images of individual female model are juxtaposed with a person or an object, in a way to resemble Araki’s physical condition of imbalanced vision. Furthermore, the contrasting collages transcend the border between reality and fiction to reflect his mental landscape. Like in many other of his works that provoke Japan’s censorship laws, Araki scribbled and spattered bright-colored strokes of acrylic paint wildly across the “In-sha” series (2013), taken with his favored Impossible films. This technique is also applied to the Polaroid films of blurry silhouettes.

Nobuyoshi Araki (Tokyo, 1940) is a Tokyo-based photographer. After graduating from Chiba University in 1963, Araki became a commercial photographer for the advertising company Dentsu. In 1971, Araki published Sentimental Journey, a highly acclaimed photobook taken during his honeymoon with his bride Yoko. He resigned from Dentsu the following year and began his practice as a freelance photographer. He is most famous for his photographic works that portray the dialogues between him and the female subjects he captures, which permeate with an intense air of Eros and Thanatos. He has continued to vigorously publish over 520 books of his works, and has simultaneously held numerous exhibitions both throughout Japan and abroad. Araki is recognized internationally as one of the leading figures of post-war Japanese photography. Solo exhibitions include “Sentimental Journey 1971-2017-,” the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Tokyo (2017); “Araki,” the Musée National des Arts Asiatiques Guimet, Paris (2016); “Ōjō Shashū: Photography for the Afterlife – Faces, Skyscapes, Roads,” the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art (2014); “Nobuyoshi Araki Photobook Exhibition: Arākī,” the IZU PHOTO MUSEUM, Shizuoka (2012); “NOBUYOSHI ARAKI: Self, Life, Death,” Barbican Art Gallery, London (2005). Araki is a recipient of The Photographic Society of Japan Annual Award (1990), the Austrian Decoration of Honor for Science and Arts (2008) and the 54th Mainichi Art Award (2012).

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