NOBUYOSHI ARAKI ELEVATES THE OBSCENE
Japanese artist transforms commonplace objects and eroticism.
by Lucy Garwood
Nobuyoshi Araki is a celebrated contemporary Japanese photographer known for capturing elements of everyday life and eroticism. He has tied up Lady Gaga and published over 450 books and has a voracious appetite for shooting the female form.
He elevates not only the obscene but also the mundane, transforming commonplace objects into detailed studies of form and colour. His photographs of flowers, karaoke bars and cityscapes capture the essence of life in post-industrial Tokyo.
However, it is his most famous works that have famously divided opinion; those that depict nude women bound with rope, a bondage style known as Kinbaku-bi, literally “the beauty of tight binding”. Notoriously provocative, these images have landed Araki in scandals of attempted censorship and the subject of controversial attention from critics and the press. Inherently shocking and controversial, these images are inspired by 17th century Japanese woodblock prints called Shunga. Often described as pornographic, his photographs explore the fetishisation of Japanese culture and the contemporary sexuality.
Japanese eroticism is traditionally preoccupied with the contrast between the explicit and the modest. His subjects vary from being lightly bound and dressed in a kimono to being suspended from the ceiling stark naked. The juxtaposition of explicit sensuality and outward respectability is recreated in a contemporary way in Araki’s photographs.
Confrontational and unapologetic, Araki’s photography aims to shock the spectator and push them to re-evaluate westernised perceptions of sexuality by bearing witness to the double standard associated with Japanese culture. His works avoid moral classification, as Araki once said, "There is no conclusion…It's completely open. It doesn't go anywhere."
All images courtesy of Nobuyoshi Araki.
You can see his latest exhibition at the Leica Gallery from Nov 8 to Dec 14 2014.