Nabuyoshi Araki

The career if Nabuyoshi Araki has encountered countless accusations by feminist groups who call him a misogynist. These groups call him so because of his photographs of naked women. In particular, those in which these females appear tied with ropes, emulating the well-know Japanese practice of Shibari. Araki studied photography at the University of Chiba in 1963. He won the Taiyo Prize that same year. Shortly after, he began working in an advertising company in Dentsu, marrying Yoko in 1971.

Nabuyoshi Araki: Yoko’s Journeys

His first book of photographs were images of his wife during their honeymoon: Sentimental Journey. Unfortunately, Yoko contracted ovarian cancer and died in 1990. Araki documented all processes of her life in another book, Winter Journey. In 2016, in Paris, at the well known Musee National des Arts Asatiques-Guimet, Araki received the international recognition he deserved in this, the largest exhibition of his work in Europe. And he did so despite the fact that, only three years before, he had lost complete vision in one of his eyes. He dedicates he theme of his work to erotism and desire. For this reason, his subject matter depicts naked girls tied and suspended. Their bondage follows the Japanese technique in the kinbaku-bi modality.

The Controversy

The true fact is that Araki has never been without controversy—precisely because of the treatment of the female subjects depicted on his work. This controversy couples with the fact that he links these images to texts, which makes his work an intimate diary. The kinbaku is an ancient martial art that has its inspiration hojojutsu. The objective of this practice is to immobilize the opponent with a rope tied in a methodical way. This action is reserved for samurai warriors.

However, Araki’s photographs, in which young people appear tied and hung, do not only show us the violence of this technique. Rather, his take is showing the sensuality about it. Araki meets the arts with a multifaceted career. In his production we can see a perfect balance between life and death, love and loneliness, light and shadow, reality and fiction, and even heaven and hell. Regardless of the role of women in Araki’s works, he also uses images of petals and stamens. In these, he reveals aspects as delicious as the sensuality of a whole world that lives in nature.

Nabuyoshi Araki: Conclusions

Araki is a star in Japan, where the media calls him “Tensai Araki” or Araki the Genius. In the West, he has the admiration of great personalities from the entertainment world such as Björk and Lady Gaga. He has actually tied them for a photographic article for Vogue.

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