“Oh, he’s just a dirty old man!”
“All he needs is a dirty raincoat to complete his outfit…”
“..I have never, in my whole life, seen anything so disgusting, so demeaning to women, than his pictures!”
“Photographer?! Are you crazy? He’s a hyped-up porno-pusher masquerading under the guise of an artist…”
These, and many more unprintable responses are what I have heard whenever I mention this man, who some say, is the foremost genius of our times.
This man is Nobuyoshi Araki, the Japanese photographer.
Whatever we call him, his prolific output of photos and books is unmatched, perhaps anywhere in the world. He has released 450 books to date, and many a time will churn out more than 20 a year.
But it is his subjects that arouse the most vehement criticism around the world, subjects that range from shots of his wife in a state of sexual climax, to his portraits of women tied up in varying positions, often naked and explicit, to his pictures of simple, everyday objects made to look sexual…..he is the only person I know who can take a shot of a crack in a sidewalk and make it look like a part of female genitalia.
His work has always been the subject of intense criticism and censorship, but that has not deterred him. It is as if, like a naughty schoolboy, he relishes this notoriety that has been thrust upon him.
That said, sexual depiction of bondage has always been a part of Japanese culture, ever since the Edo period of the mid 1800s, so it’s not as if it is something totally new there.
His followers say that there is something hidden, perhaps an unseen mesmerism in his photos. That could be a valid point.
My view? I’m out with the jury on this one! There’s no doubt that Nobuyoshi is an artist, with an unorthodox eye for sure. And he is one hell of a character with an equally voluminous personality. But for me, and this is my view entirely and in no way reflects on his status…..for me, some of his shots take his fetishistic ideas a bit too far…..everyday we in the West hear of kidnappings, murders, attempted murders, rapes, and a whole load of other serious crimes committed against women….heaven help us, the least we want more of is material that shows those crimes to be somehow acceptable……so, with a deep intake of breath, I would say that only some of his work is artistic….the rest is very, very dangerously close to depicting serious deprivation and subjugation of women.
I stand to be corrected if I am wrong in my assumptions.
I would point out that these shots of Nobuyoshi here are just an acceptable selection of his better work…..I have omitted to show numerous pictures of women in explicit positions in order not to offend.
all photos courtesy http://www.flickr.com unless otherwise stated