Nobuyoshi Araki - Biography
Born in Tokyo in 1940, Nobuyoshi Araki is one of Japan's best known living photographers. Araki became famous with his erotically charged images for which he empoys the “Kinbaku” tradition, a traditional Japanese form of bondage. In Europe the shots polarize, yet Araki's works have been shown in solo and group exhibitions since the early nineties.
Nobuyoshi Araki - Art
Nobuyoshi Araki studied photography from 1959 to 1963 at the Chiba University Tokyo and worked in advertising later. His early photos showed children in Tokyo, poetic still lifes, erotic flower images and a documentation of his honeymoon, these photos are collected in the today legendary book “Sentimental Journey”. Arakis oeuvre is considerable and illustrates how crucial his work is for him, he compares photography to a “Me-Novel”, a term the photographer used for the first time in 1971 when he published “Sentimental Journey”.
Nobuyoshi Araki - Nude Art
Araki distanced himself from photojournalism in the 1970s and turned towards nudes: scandalous large photos of vaginas, shot in effective black-and-white. His erotic photos exist not as a self-contained group but interact with his other work groups. As part of a series the nudes correspond with the flower photographies, architectural images and sky- and landscapes. He sees the themes city, woman and nature as metaphors for sexuality, birth, life and death. “To talk about death is the real taboo today”, Araki says and describes a leitmotif of his work: the connection of eros and death.
Critic on Nobuyoshi Araki
Criticism of Nobuyoshi Araki's works has in the past mainly been directed at his photographies of tied up, scantily clad or naked women with traditional Japanese clothing against the backdrop of classic Japanese interior. Araki is worshipped by millions like a pop star in Japan and women are eager to be photographed by Araki. He stresses that his models decide themselves how they want to be depicted: “Today women knock at my studio door unsolicited”, Araki says. “Not only do they want to be photographed, they also come with sophisticated concepts of what the photo session should be like …”
In the West his works are often collected under the term “Bondage” and have caused irritation with visitors and art critics in Europe. The tying up of the female body has a special tradition in Japan, as does the erotic subject in general. Paradoxically, women understand the Japanese bondage ritual as a self-determined, symbolic captivation. Testimonies speak of bondage being perceived as a liberation of precisely those ties. The women in Araki's photos seem untouchable in a strange way. “Bondage means captivating someone. Kinbaku is like a hug, an act of love”, Nobuyoshi Araki describes the cultural difference. Understandably enough Japanese people appreciate his Kinbaku images, but the Icelandic singer Björk is also a fervent admirer of the artist. Araki took her portrait for the cover of her album “Telegram” in 1996; the singer Lady Gaga had a shooting with the artist in his typical style in 2009.
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