There are two words to describe Nobuyoshi Araki, the photographer: popular and controversial. Araki came from the Provoke era, the era in which Provoke magazine propelled a gritty style in photography. His body of work is widely discussed even today and has influenced photographers all over the world. The C/O Berlin revisits his legacy in Nobuyoshi Araki: Impossible Love — Vintage Photographs.
Araki is mostly known as an erotic photographer, often tackling themes of nakedness, sexuality, fragility, and the female body in unique situations with intimacy -- women spreading their legs, straightly looking into the camera. There's also a discussion of voyeurism as his erotic photographs as they depict tension, familiarity, and lack of distance between subject and photographer. To this day, Araki and American photographers Nan Goldin, Larry Clark, and Ukranian photographer Boris Mikhailow are considered the pioneers of intimate and subjective photography. Exhibition curator Felix Hoffman tells us:
“The exhibition Nobuyoshi Araki. Impossible Love – Vintage Photographs at C/O Berlin comprises works from the years 1965 to 1972, a series dealing with the death of his wife Yoko in 1990, and recent works from 2018. Together with US photographers Nan Goldin and Larry Clark and Ukrainian photographer Boris Mikhailow, Araki is considered one of the pioneers of intimate, subjective photography. Araki’s work provokes strong emotions and polarizes viewers—in Germany today just as it did in Japan when it first appeared. His artistic approach has always defied Japan’s social norms with his intimate, graphic and sometimes provocative depictions of sexuality and the dysfunctional society in his country.”
However, there's more to Araki as Impossible Love will also cover his lesser known work, such as his Pseudo-Reportage series. Especially in his earlier years, Araki took photographs of everyday life in Japan. He would shoot strangers on Tokyo streets, still life of ordinary things, architecture and also his personal life. He dedicated a whole series for his wife Yoko in a diaristic style. He would approach everything he encountered with obvious closeness.
C/O Berlin is a charitable foundation which provides an exhibition venue for photography and visual arts. The show will run through 3 March 2019.