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Photographer Nobuyoshi Araki is one of the most controversial, complex and interesting photo artists of our time. It is unusual even for native Japan, not to mention the Western world. The main stereotype that accompanies all his work is pornography and scandalousness, but Araki is much deeper than superficial shocking.

This is a real follower of the traditions of his native island – in this case, the traditions of erotic engravings ukiyo-e, which inspired another famous Japanese photographer Eiko Hosoe. Works in which it is difficult to feel the transition from languid eroticism to bandage, pornographic “pictures” are consonant with the aesthetics of shung. To accept them, especially during the years of the rule of public puritanism, was difficult.

Because of his work, the photographer constantly gets fines and even gets to the police. In 1988, the magazine “Sasin Dzidai” published the photographer’s work, which was considered frank and illegal pornography and seized the entire circulation. The publication closed, and Nobuyoshi Araki testified for a long time in the precinct. This did not stop him, as did the scandals that regularly occur in Japan and the West – activists regularly oppose him.

The photographer works incredibly hard, he published more than 400 books, and the number of projects he created is difficult to calculate. This is one of the most prolific modern authors, who even today, at the age of eighty, continues to work in his favorite genre. In this aesthetic, he even photographed the singer Lady Gaga, without changing his own work, even with celebrities.

Nobuyoshi Araki himself says that he does not think about productivity and does not notice it – photography for him is as natural as breathing or a beat of the heart. He claims that when a film or gelatin is printed, something more than just an image appears in the frame – a mystery, deep emotions, up to the sensation of warmth of the skin of the model. A photographer never works with digital cameras, calling them “cameras for stupid people” that do not give a sense of physicality and copy the presence in reality.

The author himself in his reality is present more than fully – including intimate access to models from Tokyo’s “red light district.” The confessions about this experience made in the interview shock the audience, almost more than the works themselves. Nobuyoshi Araki himself was present in the frame, photographed himself as a participant in the process – as he regrets, is no longer accessible to him. For the author, photography is a discovery, first of all, of himself, he erases the border between the photographer and the subject and proclaims the triumph of subjectivity.

Personal experiences in the works of Araki affect not only the sphere of ambiguous entertainment. He, like a photobiographer, recorded his family life, starting with a honeymoon. Pictures with his wife Yoko included in the album “Sentimental Journey”, released in 1971. Two decades later, this moving photo story ended at the door of the crematorium – the photographer’s wife died of cancer at 42.

Nobuyoshi Araki photographed his wife during his illness and based on these shots made a traveling exhibition – he does not hide anything about himself and his life. Reflections on the death of Yoko are reflected in his contemporary works from the Paradise series, where the photographer reflects on the afterlife and withering, illustrating joyless thoughts with pictures of lush flowers.

They clearly have a pornographic connotation – Araki himself openly says that it is in every photo. He claims that pure eroticism is too intellectual and therefore uninteresting. And he himself adds a bit of dirt to the photo. However, he shoots not only taboo scenes, but also the sky, landscapes, children playing and other completely innocent stories – with his inherent gift to convey “corporeality”.

From a snapshot of passers-by in Tokyo to the first international exhibitions

Nobuyoshi Araki began experimenting with photography as a child. His father was an amateur photographer, by his main profession he was a trader in Japanese Geta sandals in the town of Minova. He had seven children – except Nobuyoshi, three more sons and three daughters. The future photographer was born in 1940, survived the war at a very young age, and received his first camera as a gift at 12 years old. He took photographs during school trips, and later, while studying at Chiba University, he began to apply for participation in photo contests held by magazines.

After graduating from the Faculty of Engineering (Photo and Cinema Department) with a bachelor’s degree, Nobuyoshi Araki entered the Dentsu photo agency. There he met his future wife – she worked as a secretary. The photographer was engaged in advertising shooting and in his spare time used studio equipment for his own experiments and searches for style.

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