top コラムRecommended photobook8 Jun Abe "1995" 阿部淳『1995』

Recommended photobook

8 Jun Abe "1995" 阿部淳『1995』

John Sypal

Jun Abe is a photographer’s photographer. He makes pictures which say less about a particular city or day than an exclamation which celebrates the medium- and the relequinshing of oneself to it. He’s that kind of photographer that early on, established sensible technical boundaries- a simple Nikon SLR with a 28 or 35mm lens and Kodak Tri-X film- and, without further distraction (save perhaps increasing film prices) set out to follow his photographic compulsions on a walk which has now stretched into few decades.  


His methods are duly practical. They’re traditional to the point of stubbornness- but if something - particularly a tried and true method- isn’t broke, there’s nothing to fix. Making consistent exposures with the same gear on the same film stock soon developed the same recipe results in consistent negatives which can be consistently, quickly printed in the darkroom. Abe, see, is about the pictures.


If such technical consistency is a vehicle, his unending desire to see- or picture- the streets, is the engine. This pairing of drive and curiosity has resulted in a vast body of work which he has been steadily publishing in a series of B5 size paperback photobooks each year by Vacuum Press in Osaka.


Most of his books have simple, practical titles, with most making note of the years the pictures within were taken. 

2022 gives us “1995”, his latest book since 2021’s “Black and White Note 3”. 

In 2020 he published two books with 2002 in the title. 

For 2019? “Citizens in Society 1989-1994”. 

Two books titled “2016” came out in 2018, and in 2015 and 2016 he published no less than three books titled “1981”.

 “2001”? That came out in 2014.  


Now then, where was I. . .  


Oh yes- dates. Text.

They are, with perhaps the exception of those with a city’s name behind them, the only written context provided. Minimal desire to say in words what he’s interested in in his pictures- this again, in my mind at least, is another thing that makes him a photographer’s photographer.  Chance, timing, improbability, not to mention whims and focus of interest- all the things which make for good pictures, resonate with his photobook output methods.  I have lined them up on my shelves as a B5 timeline with the years titled, rather than years published. 


As for the book-  it’s classic, consistent Jun Abe. The pictures, often densely layered and harshly textured by stark afternoon sunlight, present the viewer another satisfying slew of compulsively snapped chance encounters and fleeting glances. Regardless of the year A.D., here on Abe has always enjoyed the smorgasbord which the dirty, crowded streets of his native Osaka have provided- one populated by women and long shadows and children and cars and and furrow-browed men and wires and more cars and concrete and lines form and movement- often dizzyingly mixed together. This world is always seen straight ahead- but sometimes glimpses of a further compounded, distorted and overlapped one are found as he peers with his lens through street-level panes of glass. 


Jun Abe has a steady fan base of other photographers around the world- like all of his books, this is another one for them. He puts out what can be considered good books by any metric- certainly visual and tactile ones, but also budget-wise, too. (Especially with the yen as it is in mid 2022- 3000 yen is a mere $22 USD).


So yes, if you’re already an Abe fan, 1995 is definitely one to add to your collection. It’s also a great entry to his world- thankfully most of his books are still readily available online and just as affordable. Just expect your Abe section to grow- maybe make sure you have room to put the (hopefully) inevitable entries “1994” & “1996” on either side of it. 













膨大な作品を生み出し、大阪のVacuum Pressから毎年B5サイズのシリーズとして写真集を出版されています。写真集のタイトルは「年号」が使われています。写真が撮影された年代を記したものです。






2019年の本はというと『Citizens in Society 1989-1994 』です。


























  • Jun Abe "1995"
  • Published by Vacuum Press, 2022
  • 阿部 淳『1995』
  • 142ページ・B5・並製・モノクロ・写真点数138点
  • 出版=Vacuum Press(2022年5月11日発行)



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