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For the first time in the UK, the Photographers’ Gallery presents a retrospective of the work of this master of Japanese photography, retracing sixty years of emblematic creations.

“Forget everything you’ve ever learned about photography and shoot the moment. Take pictures – of anything and everything that catches your eye. Don’t stop to think,” says Daido Moriyama to this day. This 85-year-old Japanese leader, born in Ikeda near Osaka before settling in Tokyo, has built his career on re-examining the nature of the photographic medium. “What is photography?” is the recurring question that punctuates his sixty-year career. His anti-conformist aesthetic, dubbed ” Bure Boke” (raw, blurred, grainy), rejects “the dogmatism of art and the veneration of vintage prints”, to make his approach accessible and radically reproducible. Now, for the first time, London’s Photographers’ Gallery presents a retrospective of his vast, protean and prolific oeuvre, with over two hundred photographs spanning from 1964 to the present day.

Speed and Movement

Spanning the entire space, the exhibition runs across key moments in the career of the man who defined the style of an entire generation. “He captured the clash between Japanese tradition and accelerated Westernisation in post-war Japan,” explain the organisers. Daido Moriyama never ceased to reinterpret his images, experimenting with enlargements, cropping and prints. He also showed an early interest in the work of William Klein and Andy Warhol. His photographic wanderings probe the streets of Tokyo, Osaka and Hokkaido, as well as New York, Paris, São Paulo and Cologne. His series examine cultural identities, intimacy, social disconnection and isolation, youthful turmoil, the objectification and abstraction of the sexualised model, and renewal in the reinterpretation of cities. Urban wanderings caught on the spot – often even without looking at what he’s capturing – in pronounced grain, accentuated contrast, flickering light and excessive blur that denote the speed with which he executes his gesture.

A Personal Perspective

With his singular vision, Daido Moriyama quickly became a regular feature in Japanese magazines, subsequently publishing over a hundred books and monographs dedicated to specific locations (Shinjuku, Hokkaido). The gallery highlights this Japanese legend’s desire to explore “photography as a democratic language”, presenting his work in two phases. The first opens with his editorial work, his questioning of photojournalism, his experiments with Provoke Magazine and the experimental design of some of his works (Farewell Photography). The second begins in the 1980s, when he overcame “a creative and personal crisis”, before moving on to the following decades, when he further explored “the essence of photography and of himself in a visual lyricism between reality, memory and history”. For the Photographers’ Gallery, this retrospective is one of the most comprehensive exhibitions ever organised of his work.

Nathalie Dassa

Daido Moriyama : une rétrospective

Till  11 February 2024

The Photographers’ Gallery

6-18 Ramillies Street, London

Crédits photo © Daido Moriyama Photo Foundation

Angleterre – Londres