In Pictures | Daido Moriyama: Tights and Lips
— September 4, 2012 —
In Pictures is a still and moving image gallery for significant works, events and places
Tights, 2011, Daido Moriyama © Daido Moriyama Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Contemporary, London / Taka Ishii Gallery, TokyoErotic photography straddles the line between art and tawdry titillation; a line which is difficult to navigate and incredibly easy to cross. Yet it seems that there is something in the Japanese approach to the subject that allows for the creation of exquisitely erotic images that deftly evade charges of lasciviousness or pruriency. Nobuyoshi Araki’s works exploring bondage and sado-masochism blend a level of artistry and graphic sexual posturing that has earnt him fame (and on occasion censure) across the world. Yet the erotic works of Daido Moriyama, a giant in the Japanese art world, remain on the enigmatic side of obscenity, as can be seen in his exhibition Tights and Lips, which opens this month at London’s Michael Hoppen Gallery.
Born in 1938, Moriyama began taking photographs in the early 1960s, and is best known for his grainy, chiaroscuro style. Working predominantly out on the street, he documented urban life in Tokyo at the time of a uniquely Japanese cultural shift, as traditional values eroded in the face of strengthening American influences. In this latest collection, he has expanded on an earlier series of legs in fishnets, to produce a collection of images that are at once undeniably erotic yet enigmatic in their intention. Shot at close quarters, fishnetted legs lose their sense and proportion, blurring into an autostereographic visual effect. Yet a second look produces the curve of a thigh or the turn of the ankle, balancing the hard abstraction with a stab of desire. Combined with the series of Lips, images taken over the course of Moriyama’s career, the exhibition shows a long term preoccupation with image fragmentation and microcosmic focus – forcing the eye to dwell on elements of form that might otherwise go unnoticed. Ahead of his explicitly urban and politically minded retrospective at the Tate with William Klein, this more intimate exhibit is a delicious exploration of a lesser known area of his work.
Daido Moriyama – Tights and Lips opens at Michael Hoppen Gallery on September 7.
Text by Tish Wrigley