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Eikoh Hosoe

"Barakei: Ordeal by Rose"

31 May 2014 - 28 June 2014

Hours: 12:00-19:00, closed Sunday, Monday, and public holiday

YOD Gallery is delighted to announce, Barakei: Ordeal by Roses, a solo exhibition by Eikoh Hosoe.

Hosoe was born in Yonezawa, Yamagata in 1933 and grew up in Tokyo. The catalyst for being a photographer was winning the top prise in a photo competition run by Fujifilm in the student category. He became a free-lance photographer after training at Tokyo College of Photography since 1952. During that time, he had deepen exchange with Ei-Q who was one of the host of Democratic Artists Association and influenced by the artist's spirit to challenge the preconceived ideas.
The golden days of Realism movement in photography after the world war II, the new artistic representation was demanded through the trend of high economic growth period. He co-founded the "VIVO" group together with Kikuji Kawada, Akira Sato, Akira Tanno, Shomei Tomatsu, Ikko Narahara and others seeking to promote concepts of modern photography and "new subjectivity". 

In 1960, Eikoh Hosoe produced a photographic documentary of the Butoh dancer Tatsumi Hijikata, called Man and Women (Otoko to Onna), which was awarded New Artist Award from the Japan Photo Critics Association. With Yukio Mishima as a model, he created a series of dark, erotic images centered on the nude male body, Barakei: Ordeal by Roses. This collection of photographs containing masochistic representation was thought as an unprecedented book, one might say modern curiosa, which certainly created sensation within Japan as well as overseas. For this challenging work, he had won the Japan Photo Critics Association Award in 1963. Hosoe had created Kamaitachi in 1969, well-known for Hijikata being a model and a series of images that reference stories of a supernatural being — "sickle-toothed weasel" — that haunted the Japanese countryside, like Hosoe's childhood. He continuously created masterpieces since then and being active as a pioneer of photographic representation.

He also has history of contribution in educational and outreach works. He had returned to Tokyo College of Photography as a teacher and held several workshops in overseas while he was working as a professional photographer. Such contributions in cultural sector had recognition from Japanese government and he had received the Minister of Education Award for Fine Arts in 1970, Medal with Purple Ribbon in 1998, The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette in 2007 and being selected as Person of Cultural Merit in 2010. 

In this exhibition, we focus on Barakei: Ordeal by Roses, which is one of the most important works in Hosoe's career. The shooting for Barakei series were about 10 sessions and took about half a year, started from September 1961 until next spring of 1962. Photographs were shot in several locations. For instance, Hijikata's studio in Meguro, Ruins of factory in Kameido, a construction site where Aoyama church once stood and Mishima's residence in Minamimagome, etc. Models were not only Mishima, but also Hijikata and an actoress Kyoko Enami. There is an episode that Mishima had told his wife, Yoko and daughter, Noriko, two years old back then, to visit Yoko's parents home while shooting was taken place at Mishima's residence as it was "not educationally good". 

On 25th March 1963, Barakei was published with the cover design by Kouhei Sugiura from Shueisha Inc.. Mishima would follow his ideal and eventually committed suicide by seppuku in 1970, which is the case of Mishima. After this, in 1971, new edition of Barakei was published with Mishima's prologue and cover design by Tadanori Yokoo. Another edition of this book, cover design by Kiyoshi Awazu was published in 1984. Andrew Roth, a well-known influential figure and art book publisher in NY, had chosen Barakei in "The Book of 101 Books: Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth Century". 

Much long-awaited anticipation, after half a century past since the first edition was published, this series of photography, Barakei: Ordeal by Roses are exhibited here in Osaka for the first time, exposing rich cultural and historical reference of the time. The valuable vintage prints and modern prints from the series, moreover, prints which were not previously published are shown in this exhibition. We will have rare opportunity of having a talk by Mr.Hosoe himself hosted by professor Nobuhiko Baba of Konan Women's university. This event will take place at our gallery in Osaka, hoping to hear more about episodes related to Barakei and the era the book was published.

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