A young woman with her legs spread wide; buttoned-up workers on a city street. The juxtaposition of intimate, private scenes against snapshots of nameless passers-by was an early commentary on the heterogeneity and the dysfunctionality of Japanese society. In 1973, Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki (*1940 in Toyko) published these works in a book of image pairs showing life in Tokyo between 1969 and 1973, calling the societies and moral values into question. Today, he is one of the most influential and widely discussed artists in the world whose work deals with nakedness, sexuality, and the body in a radical and realistic way.
What is in equal parts moving and unsettling to the viewer is the photographer’s lack of distance. His extreme intimacy with the subjects and the situations depicted is unique and revolutionary. As one of the pioneers of intimate, subjective photography, Araki not only is part of his subjects’ lives; he also plays a central role in his own photographs. In some works, he gets physical by ripping, cutting, and recomposing his images.
Curated by Felix Hoffmann, the exhibition Nobuyoshi Araki . Impossible Love—Vintage Photographs includes previously unpublished series of his early works, combined with a selection of his recent series Flower / Doll, Sky / Winds, and Polaroid collages. A catalog accompanying the exhibition will be published by Steidl Verlag, Göttingen.
b. 1940 in Tokyo) worked in advertising after completing his studies in photography and film at Chiba University in Tokyo, devoting himself exclusively to photography as of the mid-1960s. His oeuvre spans erotic portraits of women, artificial still-lifes, photographs of plants, documentary-style depictions of everyday life, and architectural photography but also very personal, diaristic photographs of himself and his deceased wife Yoko. Nobuyoshi Araki attained international fame, however, as a photographer of nudes and erotic scenes. He has published around 400 books over the course of his career. His works have been shown in innumerable international exhibitions and are part of important collections worldwide. Nobuyoshi Araki lives and works in Tokyo.