Araki’s photography, famous for blending eroticism and bondage, or “Kinbaku”, works along the fault lines of Japanese culture, drifting endlessly between polarities – public and private life, civilized and provocative, popularity and offense. Through his work, he seeks to expose the double standard deeply embedded within Japanese culture, and its history.
The controversy stirred by Araki is further cast into light with his many clashes with authorities, whether police interventions preventing sales of magazines containing his pictures, obscenity charges against the artist himself, or arresting a gallery curator for displaying the artist’s graphic nude shots.
Despite the controversy, sexually explicit images only represent a portion of Araki’s work. Rather than acting as a tool separate from himself, Araki merges with the camera in order to document the mundanities of everyday life. From skies and blooming flowers to crowded streets and sex clubs, the diversity of images caught by Araki’s lens document Tokyo’s duality in its intense bursts of energy versus its inhuman emptiness.
“I want my work to feel intimate, like someone in the subject’s inner circle shot them.”