Nobuyoshi Araki: Tokyo Nude

May 05, 2005 - June 05, 2005

Yoshii Gallery is pleased to announce “Tokyo Nude,” an exhibition of photographs by Nobuyoshi Araki. The twelve photographic diptychs, taken between 1988-9 and measuring 30 x 40 inches each, derive from Araki’s series “Tokyo Nude”. This is the first time outside of Japan that an exhibition has been dedicated to exhibiting works solely from this series.

Every diptych is composed of an image of a woman on the left and a Tokyo scene on the right. Upon first glance, this juxtaposition may seem illogical, yet this changes as one walks through the exhibition. By photographing these two subjects and placing them next to each other, Araki explores them in the same light. Moreover, although he often features Tokyo in his work, “Tokyo Nude” exposes the city’s more quiet and vulnerable side, and explores parts of the city that are not often displayed. For example, even though Araki photographed in Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ginza (well-known neighborhoods in Tokyo), he chose to capture the quieter, more deserted areas of those neighborhoods; places that one would not initially connect with Tokyo, even though they are a strong aspect of the city’s composition.

The desolation of these urban pictures is complemented by the distressed, unnerving and often bold expressions worn by the female bodies on the left side of the diptychs. For Araki, Tokyo’s back alleyways, and the quieter corners, expose the city’s more vulnerable, sexy and feminine side. These architectural images thereby connect with the exposed women who stand beside them. Further more, although each half of the works objectively seem to focus on completely separate topics, Araki harmonizes the two studies by examining them on the same level of sexuality and vulnerability. By capturing similar feelings of desolation and abandonment from both Tokyo and its women, Araki causes them to meld into one composition. As a result, one forgets they are looking at two photographs joined together, but rather begins to understand the series of Tokyo revealed or “Tokyo Nude.”

Born in 1940 to parents who ran a shitamachi geta (sandals) shop in Tokyo, Nobuyoshi Araki entered Chiba University in 1959, and majored in photography and cinema. Araki works mainly in Tokyo, where he is often seen walking around the city and snapping photographs of everyone and everything he sees. Using a range of cameras, such as small, point-and-shoot (always with a date-imprinting function) or larger-format, tripod-mounted camera, Araki explores themes that exist within his city of Tokyo, such as the connections between love, sex, industry, nature, chaos and emptiness.

Araki has emerged as one of Japan’s most controversial artists, a result of the attention caused by his shocking works. In 1988, police blocked the sale of the magazine Shashin Jidai, because they featured Araki’s risqué photographs. Araki was also charged with obscenity during a 1992 exhibition, followed by the arrest of a gallery curator who exhibited his graphic nudes in 1993.