Nobuyoshi Araki is one of the most prolific Japanese artists of our time. Since the beginning of his photographic career, in the mid-sixties, Araki has taken tens of thousands of photographs and has published close to 450 books. From cats to flowers, to lizards, to women in bondage, to couples engaging in sex, Araki has been able to capture his sentimental journey of living (life to the fullest) in Tokyo. For some, he is perceived as a Dirty Uncle of sorts but to his enormous fan base, his photography is revered and celebrated.
If you can’t tell already, eroticism is an essential element to Araki’s work. In the late 1970’s, he began shooting Kinbaku (a form of Japanese rope bondage) with the provocative thought that his mission is to “free [the women’s] soul by tying up their bodies.”
His passion for vibrant colors and stark black and white photography all stem from the beautiful culture that surrounds him and what he sees as beauty. He’s inspired by Japanese traditions, and his influences include the Japanese art of Shunga, Godzilla and both ancient and modern Tokyo. His most notable images, however, are of models wearing the traditional Japanese Kimono that are often juxtaposed against the backdrop between the modern and the ancient.
It’s undeniable that Araki’s photography is provocative. The fact that they are never airbrushed allows the light, shadows, and angles to reveal a truth in what he sees. There is an unapologetic sense of reality in his images where we feel compelled to look (even when we don’t want to). Araki’s images are more than just mere eye candy, they are bold, layered creations that are full of meaning.