For the second time, Hamiltons is displaying the work of one of Japan’s most controversial and genius photographers. Exhibited are 16 pieces of Araki’s more recent work, all printed on illustrious aluminium, subtly lit and paired with playful frames which accentuate the harmonious colour palette of each image; reminiscent of Japanese lacquer work.
The oeuvre on display focuses on Araki’s professional, hedonistic obsession with Kinbaku and its ability to contain the physical purity of a woman through rope bondage whilst the beauty of their soul remains uncontainable and incorrigible.
Araki’s images are rich tapestries commenting on and criticising several corners of culture. Most vivid is the inherent disregard and disdain for Japan’s carefully censored and traditional culture built on respect and courtesy. Once understood, this kind of provocation is enjoyed as it invites you to revel in rebellion along with Araki as he pokes fun at his Japanese sensibility. To balance the mature visuals, Araki cleverly coincides nudity with nativity, in the form of plastic dinosaurs to play out tales of mythical beasts destroying the surrounding environment which also references the darker theme of destruction that war brought to Japan. Those are just some examples; less immediately obvious narratives will be rewarded to those who spend more time with each scene. It is also a treat to see Araki’s work on this scale and it makes the soft motion blur in several of the images more observable; the realness it captures, more tangible.
Equally however, time spent does not hold all the answers; Araki’s ability to inspire curiosity through image play is addictive. Mystified by the street casting process that took place, I had to wonder how did such conversations go down. This level of challenge in such beautifully pure photographs is rare and paints Araki as a truly unique, uncontested figure within photography. A fine art setting may seem adverse to some of his published work, however, Araki’s mischievous and playful affect is not lost, his rebellion and autonomy is still present.
About the Author: Will Britten is currently studying at LCC (London College of Communication) for a BA in photography. He is super passionate about anything analogue and manages to completely engross himself in many different alternative processes. A true film lover and we’re lucky enough to have him part of our team.