Longing for Identity: Postwar Japanese Photographers

March 03, 2011 - April 09, 2011

Yoshii Gallery is pleased to announce Longing for Identity: Postwar Japanese Photographers. This exhibition brings together important and rarely seen vintage photographic works by Nobuyoshi Araki, Eikoh Hosoe, Kazuo Kitai, Seiji Kurata, Daido Moriyama, Shomei Tomatsu and Shoji Ueda from the early 1950s to the late 1970s. It unveils how Japanese photographers responded to their country’s shifting social and political surroundings during the postwar years.

By presenting an insider’s view of the condition of Japan after the devastation of the war and the legacy of the atomic bomb, while at the same time accentuating the effects that industrialization, urbanization and the American occupation had on this transformed metropolitan society, the photographers featured in this show were at the cutting edge of the postwar cultural movement in Japan. Particularly interested in exploring subjects such as death, erotic obsession and irrationality to increase the psychological impact of the images, the seven artists share a common sensibility while their works differ in style. Meanwhile, they suggest the imprints of popular culture in the modernization of the new society by depicting various moments in urban life.

In the midst of momentous change, a spirit of disillusionment with traditional culture and old values permeated the contemporary Japanese young generation, and these “New Wave” Japanese photographers were recording and inventing political, social, and aesthetic norms with influences from western ideas of Surrealism and Dadaism. Their radical approach, including the borrowing of surrealist and expressionist styles, the use of odd camera angles and cropping, mark the new era of photography in Japan.

These photographs provoke the viewers to re-think the country’s past and future, and reflect on the new generation’s radical break from the shackles of national traditions as well as their longing for a new identity of the modern Japan.

Longing for Identity: Postwar Japanese Photographers feature over twenty images from three decades, with photographs from each artist’s major series including “Oh Shinjuku” by Shomei Tomatsu (1969), “Tokyo Meshed World” by Daido Moriyama (1977 – 1978) and “Theater of Love” by Nobuyoshi Araki (1965) among others.