top コラムExhibition ReportVol.23 Ryuhei Nakashima 中嶋琉平 写真展「come into this crossing」

Exhibition Report

Vol.23 Ryuhei Nakashima 中嶋琉平 写真展「come into this crossing」

John Sypal

Last week I went to Jam Photo Gallery (JPG) in Meguro to check out the latest show by Ryuhei Nakashima.  

Now, I’ve known Ryuhei for years- in fact I’ve known him just about as long as he’s been photographing.  While that might sound impressive, it’s important to note that he is still in high school.  (I’ve been in Japan longer but his Japanese is much, much better than mine.)

Ryuhei’s bio on the JPG gallery website states that he is: a photographer, a high schooler and a skateboarder, in that order. His exhibition, “come into this crossing” is the visual result of the combination/exploration of these roles. 


Due to his age, the High School part of his life is inevitable, and with his friends, I’m sure the Skateboard part is probably a lot of fun.  As for Photography, Ryuhei’s father is a dedicated, talented enthusiast, and it was at one of my exhibitions at Totem Pole Photo Gallery many years ago that I first met him and his son. Ryuhei lives just a skateboard-ride away from Shinjuku- it’s basically his back yard. He has frequented Shinjuku’s photo galleries and camera shops and record shops for years, always with a camera around his neck and some film in his pocket.  That’s right- film.  Black and white film, which he develops and prints in a darkroom at home. This is something he does for himself, not Tik Tok or YouTube. He’s on Instagram but his online presence is absolutely disengaged from the social media Attention Economy.  Come to think of it, I can’t remember seeing him on a smartphone.  


Anyway- he’s in the darkroom a lot- and every time we meet he’s usually got a photo paper box of 5x7 prints to show me. I love it. I particularly enjoy his snapshots of friends and their shenanigans. Often those shenanigans are the typical high schooler stuff- girls smiling, dudes mugging for the camera, someone in midair. Teenager stuff. Those pictures are (thankfully!) in this show. But a major part of this exhibition had a conceptual part that was accomplished with cooperation of his pals. Not as subjects (portraits) but movers of light. 


These photos, the largest prints in the exhibition, were long-exposure shots made in Shinjuku at night. To make them Ryuhei first taped a flashlight to the back of his skateboard. 

After setting up his tripod (and Bessa L) he had his friends ride the board down the streets, meandering between the crowds of people and on through the frame.


There is an element of chance in them which reflects the spirit of youth- the resulting light-streams aren’t “drawn” on purpose- they’re paths determined by the randomness of the environment. His pictures capture this light-scrawled street graffiti- something first only visible to the camera, and then to us through a print. They’re clever- the theme and method are simple but the slight variations between the different locations add a mature coherency to it. It’s the perfect balance between idea- not a labored intellectual one, but a whim which arose from that playful, clever sense of public mischief that fuels skateboarding culture. 


Ryuhei’s at a point in his life where he can do fun stuff like this- he’s got friends who will play along, free time outside of school, and a vibrant city to explore. What more could a young artist ask for? He’s putting in the work and just keeps getting better. By “better” I mean, “is discovering how the integration of photography into his life enriches it”.


He wrote a short statement for this exhibition- it has an earnest shine of youth that I don’t want him to lose. The ending, however, demonstrates wisdom beyond his years:


As I watch my friends disappear as they weave their way through the crowds on their skateboards I realize how the city is always moving. Shinjuku’s alive. 

People and moments pass so quickly- I can’t help but take pictures all the time.


This show, an invitation into this monochromatic crossroad, was a fine reminder of how important the freedom of youth is to making pictures which can show others the way. 



先週、私は目黒にあるJam Photo Gallery(JPG)で開催されていた中嶋琉平くんの最新作の展覧会を見に行きました。琉平くんとは何年も前からの知り合いで、彼が写真を撮り始めた頃からの長い付き合いになります。実は、彼はまだ高校生です。


Jam Photo Galleryのウェブサイトに掲載されている琉平くんの経歴には、写真家、高校生、スケートボーダーという順番で書かれていました。彼の展覧会「come into this crossing」は、これらの肩書きが組み合わさっており、探求の視覚的結果といえます。






彼は新宿のフォトギャラリーやカメラ店、レコードショップに何年も通い、いつもカメラを首からさげ、ポケットにはフィルムを入れていました。そう、フィルムです。彼は自宅の暗室で現像し、プリント作業もしています。彼はInstagram(@naka_shim)をやっていますが、ネット上での存在感を見ると、一般の人々がSNSで寄せる関心とはまったく無縁です。 そういえば、彼がスマートフォンの写真機能を使っているのを見た記憶がありません。














琉平くんは人生の中で、このような楽しいことができる時期にいます。一緒に遊んでくれる友達がいて、学校以外の自由な時間があり、活気のある街を探検できる。若いアーティストにとって、これ以上望むものがあるでしょうか? 彼は写真を撮り続け、どんどん上達しています。「上達している」というのは「写真を自分の人生に取り入れることで、いかに人生が豊かになるかを発見している」という意味です。




  • 隙間をぬうように進み、だんだん遠くへ人混みの奥へと消えていくスケーターを見ていたら、この街は絶えず動いていて、生きているのだと感じた。ほんとうに、人や物はどんどん過ぎていってしまうから、いつでも写真を撮らないではいられない。





Ryuhei Nakashima "come into this crossing" 

中嶋琉平 写真展「come into this crossing」


Jam Photo Gallery


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