05
Jul
12

Shomei Tomatsu : Photography

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‘Untitled’ (Hateruma-jima, Okinawa)
Gelatin silver print
25 x 37.7 cm
1971
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‘Protest Series, Tokyo’
Gelatin silver print
Shomei Tomatsu
1969
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‘Untitled’
Gelatin silver print
Shomei Tomatsu
1969
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‘Untitled’ (Kadena, Okinawa)
Gelatin silver print
29 x 41.3 cm
1969
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‘Steel Helmet, Nagasaki’
Gelatin silver print
Shomei Tomatsu
1963
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‘Coca-Cola, Tokyo’
Gelatin silver print
Shomei Tomatsu
1969
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‘Untitled’ (Eros Series)
Gelatin silver print
29.7 x 39.1 cm
1969
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‘Hairstyle, Tokyo’
Gelatin silver print
Shomei Tomatsu
1969
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‘Untitled’ (Eros Series)
Gelatin silver print
31 x 23 cm
1969
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Though still relatively unknown outside Japan, Tomatsu, is arguably the greatest and most influential of all the photographers that emerged during his country’s turbulent postwar era. Over a span of 50 years, his work has reflected, often obliquely, the changes in Japanese culture as the American military presence and then the unstoppable spread of American popular culture, helped shaped a new outward-looking, consumer-driven nation. Two series of photographs – Protest, Tokyo, 1969 and Eros, Tokyo, 1969 – record the often turbulent youth cultural changes of the time. His book, Oh! Shinjuku, named after a shopping district in central Tokyo, chronicles the rise of a young and rebellious Bohemianism that, as an older outsider, he saw, as he later put it – “through the eyes of a stray dog.”

Those words seem prophetic. Tomatsu was one of the giants of Japanese photography that a younger generation of photographers who came to prominence in the late 60s reacted against. Known as the Provoke Movement, after the magazine that published their work, it included Daido Moriyama, Takuma Nakahira and Koji Taki. In its founding statement of intent, Taki wrote: “We photographers must use our own eyes to grasp fragments of reality far beyond the reach of pre-existing language, presenting materials that actively oppose words and ideas … materials to provoke thought.” Forty years on, though, Tomatsu’s radical approach – his freeform, expressionist style, odd camera angles, strange cropping and framing – has been reappraised and he is now seen, ironically enough, as one of the pioneers of the Provoke era. He is famously reclusive and has never ventured outside Japan. [ Extract ]

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Shomei Tomatsu : Galerie Priska Pasquer

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2 Responses to “Shomei Tomatsu : Photography”


  1. 2 Ben
    January 6, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Great Photographer.


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