“If other contemporary artists—in literature and cinema as much as the visual arts—have made the cities where they live and work the centre of their narrative discourse, Araki has assuredly created an image of Tokyo that shows a very personal point of view, which remains, at the same time, deeply rooted in the collective imagination of Japans capital city.” This is where we start with Nobuyoshi Araki‘s massive and vast body of work: Tokyo, this seemingly endless and meandering city that has no center and yet compells you to wander its streets as if in a novel that needs to be read. When I think of Tokyo, I think of Araki and Haruki Murakami, as both their poetic and almost after-dark depictions of the city help to understand an underground energy in the city.
Currently on view at Javier Lopez & Fer Frances in Madrid is a massive of presentation of Araki’s erotic works, a mixture of portraits, sex scenes, sexual explicit metaphors through flowers and overall provocateur photography. As the gallery notes of the presentation, “Two registers can be seen in his controversial work: a sentimentalism that verges on kitsch and an extreme eroticism that is at times downright pornographic, and in some series both are in evidence at the same time—for example, Tokyo Nude in the eighties, As Paradise in 1998, and Vaginal Flowers in 1999. The death of his wife in 1991 left a void that the artist sought to fill with photography, and since then he has refused to photograph anything that is not life, while discovering that every image involves a death: that of time stopped.”
The show is on view through September 18, 2019.