Exhibition: 15 May – 17 Aug 2018
13 Carlos Place
W1K 2EU London
Mon-Fri 10-18, Sat 11-16
Daido Moriyama is recognised as one of the few living modern masters of photography from Japan and is certainly the most celebrated photographer to emerge from the Japanese Provoke movement of the 1960s. Hamiltons presents Daido Moriyama: SCENE, an exhibition of photographs selected by gallery owner Tim Jefferies from Moriyama’s extensive oeuvre and produced exclusively for Hamiltons as silkscreens on canvas. The majority of these silkscreens are unique in their format and include images taken in the 60s and 70s, as well as much more recently. Hamiltons exhibition will open alongside Photo London, 16 – 20 May 2018, where Hamiltons will present Moriyama not only on stand at the fair but for the Photo London Pavilion Commission.
Moriyama’s work is notoriously gritty and challenging, often recording the breakdown of traditional values in post-war Japan. Haunted by the American occupation of the country in the aftermath of World War II – the social and cultural shifts, industrialisation, urbanisation and the clash of capitalism with a traditionally insular society – his work alludes to the struggle between tradition and modernism, spirituality and commerce, conveying society’s conflicts through a new visual language. Moriyama has approached his photography with originality by allowing the camera to capture spontaneous, accidental moments which are often found at the very start or very end of film rolls.
Moriyama’s work is epitomised by black and white with shades of grey, in which his high contrast and grainy style often echoes the subject matter. Moriyama emerged onto the photography scene in the mid-1960s, breaking with widely regarded conventions and questioning what constitutes acceptable subject matter. He is attracted to what he describes as “a dim light in a shadowy environment”. Unquestionably difficult to characterisein one way with reference to a single body of work, Moriyama has taken tens of thousands of photographs since the mid-sixties and his complete works include black and white, colour, Polaroids, screenprints, films, installations and silkscreens, as seen in this exhibition.
In addition to the historical and social context of his work, Moriyama also draws influences from photographers and artists both within and beyond Japan. He worked under Eikoh Hosoe and is a contemporary of Shomei Tomatsu, Nobuyoshi Araki and Hiroshi Sugimoto. The influence of Andy Warhol is evident, notably in Smash Up, 1969featured in this exhibition, as is the stimulus of William Klein, who visited Japan in the early sixties and with whom Moriyama celebrated a side-by-side retrospective at Tate Modern in 2012. Between 1956 and 1960, Klein published four photography books each dedicated to the street life of a particular capital city; New York (1956), Rome (1959), Moscow (1960) and ;Tokyo (1960). These street scenes inspired Moriyama to take more and more photographs. Where Klein’s images are light hearted, Moriyama’s early scenes depict Tokyo’s marginalised subcultures. Shrouded in mystery, these images are raw and at times dark and erotic. Although Moriyama is a master of technique, his work is also instinctive, allowing for photographic chance.