Araki meets Hokusai
Hokusai. Japanese Woodcuts of the Thun Collection and Nobuyoshi Araki
Veit Görner, Michael Thun, Frank-Thorsten Moll
Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld, 2008
out of print
This catalog presents for the first time photographs of the Japanese artist Nobuyoshi Araki in combination with classical Japanese woodcuts from the Hanoverian collection of Michael Thun, which belong to the best of their type to be found anywhere in Europe.
Approximately one hundred current photographs, never exhibited before, from Araki’s notorious Bondage series are presented together with small-format woodcuts. Upon closer inspection, the woodcuts reveal only slightly concealed allusions to erotic desire and sexuality. It is not only where sexual activities may be seen that Araki’s spiritual affinity with his artistic ancestors becomes clear.
In essence, Araki’s photographs are always more than blatant provocation through naked skin and exposed bodily orifices. They are in fact stagings of individualized fantasies and culturally inherited images whose protagonists are placed in a manner similar to the traditional procedure by the masters of woodcuts with their pictorial figures-whether in the prints of Hokusai, Ukiyo-e, Kunisada, or Shin Hanga.
Born in 1940, Nobuyoshi Araki is arguably Japan’s greatest living photographer, and certainly its most controversial. His inexhaustible creative energy is attested to by the more than three hundred books he has published in the last four decades, while his work, which often challenges social taboos surrounding sex and death, has drawn critical attention both at home and abroad. Araki has been called a monster, a pornographer, and a genius-and the photographer quite agrees.