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Nobuyoshi Araki »

Hana Jinsei

Exhibition: 10 Apr – 9 May 2004

Kitano Cultural Center

1603, Nishigo-cho
163-1403 Nagano

+81-26-2354111


Daily 10-19

Flowers as Memento Mori Yoshitomo Kajikawa Higanbana cluster-amaryllises - flowers of the autumn equinox, flowers for the dead and graveyards... Reports have it that the first flowers that Mr. Araki captured in his photographic works happened to be these particular flowers. Mr. Araki was born in Minowa, in downtown Tokyo, and his childhood play grounds were the Yoshiwara gay quarters and Jokanji Temple, where Yoshiwara prostitutes who had died were brought and summarily buried. Cluster-amaryllises were everywhere in the temple's graveyards. Flowers are actually reproductive organs; they are wombs wherein new life materializes and the future begins. Flowers, in human terms, are the space where love is consummated. It is no wonder that they are often used as symbols of happiness. Mr. Araki's flowers, however, are moribund even in the prime of their life. They are flowers of Thanatos lurking in Eros and are starkly sterile. It is exactly for that reason, however, Mr.Araki's flowers can aptly symbolize our present time. They are the flowers of our generation and photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, alias Genius Ararky, who feels the weight of and bravely expresses our generation's malaise, holds a special attraction for me that is very powerful. Mr. Araki has instinctively learned that the barren ground, which produces nothing, is the very stage of our daily life. Nobuyoshi Araki's life theatre is completely desiccated at its core, although its senses are in a state of over-ripeness. It is in search of much-needed moisture that Genius Ararky has zeroed-in on things succulent and torrid as his subject matter, but the path that he follows is always accompanied by the fragrance of death. Gardens where flowers have already passed their prime have the same feeling of desolation as would be the case at the end of merry festivals. Mr. Araki's works are, therefore, poetic evocations of his realization that only such desolate but absolutely irreplaceable gardens have significance for our own age and generation. Cartier-Bresson, Ihei Kimura and Nobuyoshi Araki... Each has his own unique photographic technique, and Mr.Araki's special features - his "flowers" - can be seen all the more clearly when contrasted with the others. Mr. Araki's eye has steadily evolved from that of the camera lens as a triumph of engineering technology to that of an ordinary human being. His spiritual commitment has shifted from ideologies to flesh and blood, and from things grand to things minor. Mr. Araki now thrives in the poignant details of the microcosmos of town belles and lasses. Mr.Araki's domains, in other words, are the petty and vulgar lives of ordinary people - the domains that the god of the imagination has given to him to work with, whatever the subject matter may be. It is in such domains that Mr.Araki tries to "capture truth" in accordance with his theory of "I" photography. I am happy - even grateful - to have Mr. Araki as a portrayer of our own age and generation. My supreme joy, my consummate "flower", shall I dare say, is having Genius Ararky living among us. (Director, Kahitsukan - Kyoto Museum of Contemporary Art) (Translated by Atsuo Tsuruoka)