Araki exhibition at Foam with old and contemporary work

araki posterAfter their spring exhibition of the upcoming Japanese photographer Yokota Daisuke, Foam now presents the work one of Japan’s best known photographers: Araki Nobuyoshi (born 1940). ARAKI Oju shashu – photography for the afterlife: alluring hell is an interesting exhibition dedicated to a fascinating artist.
Araki’s erotic bondage  photos are of the 1980s are well known and during his career he produced some 450 photography books. But Araki is still creating new work. For this exhibition Foam collaborated with the Dutch gallery Alex Daniels – Reflex Amsterdam. Together they present a varied selection of Araki’s work, ranging from the 1960s until the present day. According to the curators these latest works reprent Araki’s acceptance of, as well as his resistance of decline.

The exhibition starts with the still life series qARADISE of 2013. This series consists of compositions of bright colored flowers and plastic dinosaur figures against a deep dark black background. Another fairly recent work, Diary (2003-2008), is exhibited in a very small room. There, 500 black/white photographs are pinned on the wall, all the way up to the ceiling. They form an impressive presentation of numerous models and scenes, a record of Araki’s world caught by his camera.

Three well known series are Sentimental Journey; Winter Journey and Subway. In Sentimental Journey (1971) and Winter Journey (1990) Araki portrays his wife Yoko during their honeymoon and during her illness up to her funeral in 1989/90. Subway (1972) shows the daily behaviour of travelers in one of the world’s busiests subway networks, that of Tokyo. Sleeping, hanging, eating, reading and all other things people do while being in a subway car. A beautiful series of portraits of common people.

The main figure in the 2010 series Chiro, Love, Death is Yoko’s cat Chiro, who outlived Yoko for twenty years. Araki records the last moments of the old cat, who visibly gets thinner and thinner. And in one of the last photographs of Chiro, dead and in a coffin surrounded by flowers, we see the cat wearing a necklace that holds a comic figure portrait of Araki himself.

Araki Saichin & Mabo 1963My favorite works in the exhibition though, were part of Araki’s 1964 series Satchin and his brother Mabo. This series shows images of noughty and cheerful looking Japanese boys playing on the streets of Tokyo and having fun.
The last room of the exhibition is dedicated to the theme of bondage and shows more contemporary work by Araki. Here old black/white photos are shown painted over by Araki in bright colors.

On the occasion of the exhibition, Foam Magazine’s issue number 40 is dedicated to the work of Araki and contemporary Japanese photographers influenced by Araki, such as Shiga Lieko and Motoyuki Daifu.

For more information about the exhibition visit

After Araki, Foam Magazine, issue 40, ISBN 8710966455234, bilingual English/Japanese, 280 pages.