top コラムExhibition ReportVol.28 Nobuyoshi Araki "Longing for Peace" 荒木経惟「ずーっと冬 春は来ない」

Exhibition Report

Vol.28 Nobuyoshi Araki "Longing for Peace" 荒木経惟「ずーっと冬 春は来ない」

John Sypal

"Forever Winter, Spring Won't Come"


If the Japanese title for Nobuyoshi Araki's recent exhibition is a lament; its English title, "Longing for Peace", feels like a soft plea.


On January 11th, with that familiar tinge of anticipation in my stomach, I walked up the stairs of a nondescript, backstreet Harajuku building to Art Space AM for Araki’s latest exhibition.  


Over the past decade and though dozens of exhibitions, curator Hisako Motoo (PCT articles) has utilized her unique Art Space AM in a variety of ways for Araki’s work. Most often these exhibitions- always with an astounding amount of images- have featured gigantic inkjet prints (from 6x7 film or Polaroids) or framed 9x9 grids of Polaroids. For the past several years, nearly every show has focused on his vision- his creation- of Paradise. 


Araki’s "Paradise" is- prior to this exhibition, at least- a lush, vibrantly colorful realm of oversized, eroticized flowers amongst which bizarre figurines and deformed dolls frolic. These worlds, created in his home studio with what he’s said is unsold stock from a local florist are part of a garden of delights- part Bosch-heaven, part Buddhist hell. Like his entire photographic oeuvre, this “Paradise” is peppered with wit, riddled with lust, and possess a unique combination juvenile humor, possible discomfort, and, interspersed with a bittersweet mood, moments of true beauty. 


And, for those who know not where but how to look, Araki himself, in the form of comically self-referential figures and altered toys, makes regular appearances in the pictures. With their shifts in scale, vivid color, the overall strange luridness, these photographs have always been an experience to stand before- and be surrounded by. Knowing that his longing for peace will one day be granted I knew I wanted to savor that sensation of encountering his latest work in person. 


Upon entering the gallery that January evening, it was the starkness of the installation- a straight line of framed Polaroids- that hit me first. The windows as well had been blacked-out, too. It felt close to a funeral. 


The exhibition begins with a quiet image of a skull nestled amongst withering flowers. Even though skeletons have crept into Araki’s Paradise for some time now- this one set the tone for the rest of the show. To its left, a dry bouquet of dusty roses.  Paradise, while not lost, is in advanced decay. Its once colorfully flowered stems are bare. Passing frame by frame along the wall, Thanatos, ever-present in Araki’s work, has come to the forefront. Time marches on. However, amongst the desolation are two sudden flashes of supple flesh- Polaroids from years gone by. Eros winks back through the hazy emulsion of mortality. 


Araki has long said that photographs are about framing not space, but time. 

A survivor of war, cancer, various medical ailments, his parents, his wife, his cat, and more and more friends every year- the Polaroids that line this gallery frame a particular time: the thoughts and feelings of a man in winter of an extraordinary, prolific life. 


Interestingly, this show both begins and ends with images of skulls. 

While the first is death personified, the large skull in last photograph sees visitors off with a gigantic, crooked grin. 



「ずーっと冬 春は来ない」。


荒木経惟さんの最近の展覧会の邦題が「嘆き」だとすれば、英題の "Longing for Peace "(平和が待ち遠しい)はソフトな懇願のように感じられます。


今年の1月11日、私は荒木さんの新作を見るため、お馴染みの期待に胸を膨らませながら、原宿の裏通りにあるビルの階段を上ってartspace AMへと向かいました。


過去10年間、何十回もの展覧会を企画・開催してきたキュレーターの本尾久子さんは、荒木経惟さんの新作を発表する場として、自らが立ち上げた「artspace AM」を様々な方法で活用してきました。多くの場合、これらの展覧会では、6×7フィルムやポラロイドをスキャンした巨大なインクジェットプリントや、額装された9×9グリッドのポラロイドが展示されてきました。ここ数年間で開催したほぼすべての展覧会は、彼のビジョン、つまり楽園(パラダイス)の創造に焦点を当てています。




これまで荒木さんの 「楽園」は、特大のエロティックな花々が咲き乱れ、奇妙な置物やデフォルメされた人形が戯れる、青々とした色鮮やかな世界でした。地元の花屋から仕入れた売れ残りの花を用いて、アトリエで制作されたこれらの世界は、ヒエロニムス・ボスの「快楽の園」のようであり、仏教的な地獄のようでもあります。荒木さんの写真作品全体がそうであるように、この「楽園」はウィットに富み、欲望にまみれ、独特なユーモアと不快感を併せ持ち、ほろ苦いムードの中に「真の美の瞬間」が散りばめられているのです。

※ヒエロニムス・ボス(Hieronymus Bosch)…15世紀後半から16世紀にかけてルネサンス期に活躍したネーデルラント出身の画家



その日、artspace AMに入ると、額装されたポラロイド写真が一直線に並ぶ茫漠とした雰囲気が目に飛び込んできました。窓も黒く塗りつぶされています。曇った「死」に近いものを感じました。























Nobuyoshi Araki "Longing for Peace"

荒木経惟「ずーっと冬 春は来ない」


artspace AM(東京都渋谷区神宮前6-33-14 神宮ハイツ301/302)



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