Foam is proud to present a major solo exhibition of the famous Japanese photographer Araki. ARAKI Ojo Shashu – Photography for the Afterlife: Alluring Hell gives a distinct reflection on Araki’s oeuvre, renowned for the master’s perpetual focus on daily life and his intertwining themes of Life (Sex) and Death.

The exhibition comprises both his notorious early work and very recent series that have never been shown in the Netherlands before. The selection offers a unique and intimate insight into the perspective of an artist in his autumn years.

Nobuyoshi Araki (Tokyo, 1940) is one of the most celebrated Japanese artists of our time. Ever since he started his photographic career in the mid-sixties, Araki has taken tens of thousands of photographs and published more than 450 photobooks. His photographs are personal, indifferent, random, accidental, prurient, erotic, anarchistic, touching, vulgar, sentimental. The effect is overwhelming.

Araki is an international master of photography, noted for his seemingly detached Kinbaku-photographs; Kinbaku, 'the art of tight binding', is a Japanese style of rope bondage. Simultaneously his work is very intimate and personal, often closely related to his Tokyo surroundings and the marriage with his wife Yoko until her death in 1990. 

Opening of the Araki exhibition, 2014 © Foam

The title of the exhibition refers to the influential Japanese-Buddhist book Ōjōyōshū from 985 AD. It depicts heaven and hell, and inspires Araki in his existential exploration of Life (Sex) and Death through photography, from the famed series Satchin and Sentimental Journey/Winter Journey, to the numerous photobooks, to the most recent photographs.

There are photographs on show from different times in Araki's impressive oeuvre, including his newest series, qARADISE.

Nobuyoshi Araki is also the inspiration and starting point for #40 of Foam Magazine, which aims to examine his affect and influence on contemporary photography. 

The exhibition was made in cooperation with Galerie Alex Daniëls / Reflex Amsterdam.

Foam is supported by the BankGiro Loterij, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, City of Amsterdam, Delta Lloyd, Olympus and the VandenEnde Foundation.

ARAKI Ojo Shashu – Photography for the Afterlife: Alluring Hell was conceived in close collaboration with the artist. Nobuyoshi Araki is the starting point and so is the vision that he has on his oeuvre today. This is reflected in the careful selection from his numerous series. 

Installation Araki Ojo Shashu in Foam, 2014 © Christian van der Kooy

Featured in the exhibition are several different photo series from Araki's impressive oeuvre, including the never-before seen qARADISE.  

The balance of polarities is a major thread running through the exhibition – banality and spirituality, light and shadow, reveal and disguise, fact and fiction, rationality and passion, creation and destruction, seduction and decay, life and death, paradise and hell. Only by distancing himself through his lens, keeping life at arm’s length, can the artist approach reality and eventually reconcile life and death.

During 2014, the 74-year-old Araki worked on his new series qARADISE, which consists of dark photographs of flowers and dolls. He also rediscovered his never-before exhibited series Alluring Hell from 2008, with erotic black-and-white photographs painted over by Araki himself. An extensive collection of fading polaroids from the Impossible series is shown as well. These recent series set the tone for the exhibition; they mirror Araki’s acceptance of, as well as his resistance to his decline.

While at first slightly alienating, particularly for the non-Japanese observer, both the individual images and the assembly of series may eventually bring about a feeling of transciency and melancholia – Araki’s work has its very own, touching beauty. The exhibition allows the visitor to unravel the complexity and obsessions of a photographer of great international importance.

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