Nobuyoshi Araki has been taking dirty pictures since the mid 1960’s. His eye for composition is unquestioned and his ability to generate controversy is unmatched. His beautiful and sexless erotica has brought him worldwide fame and allowed him to push the limits of both art and the inconsistent official and unofficial censorship rules of his native Japan. The new retrospective of Araki’s work at Amsterdam's Foam gallery does something none of his 450 photo books have managed to do. Show the world the complete Araki.
Araki is controversial because of the implicit sexuality of his most famous work. But, the new exhibition shows that his most daring pieces deal with something even more core to the human condition than sex. Araki’s most striking work deals in death. Perhaps it’s natural that the 74 year old would have an interest in the subject, but his most compelling work on death is over two decades old and dates from the untimely passing of his wife. It is in these photos that we see Araki is not only drawn to exhibitionists, but he himself is an emotional exhibitionist, baring his grief for the world to see and comment on.
The most stunning thing about viewing each stage of his career is that the same artist could produce such compelling work in so many different ways. Many will come to the gallery to see the rope bondage, but most will leave touched by the complexity of Araki’s vision of us all.
Info about the exhibition here.