Flower by Nobuyoshi Araki


2002/3 NAR109
4.3 x 3.5
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9.8 x 9.0" (External dimensions)

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Master of sensual provocation

Nobuyoshi Araki is a living legend in the world of photography. He has been active for decades, changing the way we see the world through his work. His consistent desire to push the boundaries of photography as a medium and produce unique viewing experiences has positioned him as both a pioneer and revolutionary. In his diverse repertoire, the polaroids assume a special position. Every day, the artist captures images with his Polaroid 600, categorizes the resulting works, and decides which belong together in an exhibition. Among his most famous series are Flower, ARAKIMONO, KINBAKU, KIRISHIN and PARADISE – all of which have received significant international attention.

His polaroids address themes of love, sexuality, and attraction – but he stages them within the context of an endless metaphysical struggle with the omnipresent morality of existence. He juxtaposes fertility and transience using strong colors and even stronger contrast. Araki is, by definition, a driving force in his field.
His productivity, which does not diminish (even in his 80s), becomes symbolic throughout the images that chronicle evolution and decline.

Throughout the Flower series, Araki showcases the symbolic beauty of flowers in a lush and immersive manner. In a competition of colors, the blossoms wrestle with each other, striving to defeat the darkness of non-existence. Beauty and death are caught in an intimate embrace. Closely related to the Flower works are the pieces in the PARADISE series, which first appeared in 2015. The view widens as individual flowers become lush bouquets complimented by figures such as Geisha dolls or dinosaurs. The artificial and natural blend to form a paradisiacal dream, which evokes a powerful atmosphere of both time and transience.   

Sensuality and eroticism, which are commonly associated with the name Araki, come to life in the photographs of ARAKIMONO; The artist spreads her legs while gazing confidently at the camera, lending a sense of power to her revealing pose. Within the images, Araki uses bondage techniques to tie up female bodies and heighten the pervasive erotic ambiance. The symbolism behind the bondage knots intertwines multiple themes into one powerful piece of artistry.

The KIRISHIN series, originally published in book form, also relies on proven motifs; Images are sliced diagonally and rearranged to create entirely new images. The title of the series functions as a play on words. Japanese terms for cut, feeling, truth, and photography – the guiding principles of Araki's visual art – are compounded. He considers himself a provocateur, using the term Photo Devil to describe his act of transgressing the boundaries of (so-called) good taste.

The scope of Nobuyoshi Araki's portfolio is impressive. More than 500 books contain his work and exhibitions across the globe proudly display his images. Even though his thematic diversity has increased over the years, he has always remained true to his style – a style characterized by proximity and intimacy.

The Polaroids from the Flower, ARAKIMONO, KINBAKU, KIRISHIN and PARADISE series, all of which are hand-signed, come directly from the legendary artist's studio.

Stephan Reisner

1940born in Tokyo, Japan
1963graduated from the Department of Engineering at Chiba University; majoring in photography and film-making
1974co-founder of the Workshop Photography School and Magazine, Tokyo
1976opened Nobuyoshi Araki School, Tokyo
1988published Aat ROOM Magazine
1990recipient, Shashin-no-kai Prize from the Photographic Society of Japan
2008awarded Austrian Decoration of Honor for Science and Arts
Lives and works in Tokyo, Japan