Shomei Tomatsu
2013, Dec 23
Things I liked in 2013 (non exhaustive)

This started out as a list of photography books I liked, but now it’s just a list of “things.”

Go Itami, Study 1. Rondade. Design by The Simple Society 2. Great book design. I think this book will be worth a lot in the future.

Taisuke Koyama, The City Breathes and Ages 3. Maybe my favorite book, because it’s cheap (¥1000) and uses an unusual form (the children’s book).

Naoya Hatakeyama, Kesengawa. Light Motiv. Wrote a couple of words about it here 4.

Mika Kitamura, Einmal ist keinmal 5. Therme. Snap’s not dead.

Takuma Nakahira, Gecko. Little Big Man. I meant to write lots more about how good the Japanese books coming out of Little Big Man have been, but this book sold out so quickly that I just didn’t get around to it. The Keizo Kitajima book from last year, USSR 1991, is incredible.

Shomei Tomatsu, Make 6. Super Labo. Just really good.

Kyoungtae Kim, On the Rocks 7. Your Mind. Wait, maybe this was my favorite book, and not just because it was cheap.

Lieko Shiga, Rasen Kaigan. Akaaka. I saw the exhibit the first week of January, and probably didn’t see anything better the rest of the year. This book is the catalog of that exhibition.

Kitai Kazuo Slideshow, Earth DOM. This might have been as good as Shiga’s exhibit in terms of the impact it had on me, the sense of experiencing something great, not in the totalized Wagnerian sense but in a fragmented way.

Kazuo Yoshida, “TB” at hpgrp. Yoshida is going to do big things.

The first room of Issei Suda’s show at Syabi. Like a black and white Rinko Kawauchi, and I mean this in a good way.

Kayo Ume’s installation of Jiichamsama at her Tokyo Opera City show.

Chu-ha Chung’s speaking event.

Hiroko Komatsu’s show at photographers’ gallery.

Taisuke Koyama’s installation in Shodoshima.

Wataru Yamamoto, “Drawing a Line” at photographers’ gallery and “Plane Tree Observations” at Yumiko Chiba.

Keiji Uematsu, “Cutting‐Axis・Latitude・Longitude” at Yumiko Chiba.

The “Out of Doubt” exhibit at Mori Art Museum, a great attempt to locate some kind of consciousness in contemporary Japanese art.

Talking about baseball with Seung Woo Back.

Generational solidarity.

Being able to read Japanese.

Showing my parents and my sister around Japan.

Kathryn Abbe, “Light and Shadow” at Tosei-sha.

Kathryn Abbe, “Light and Shadow” at Tosei-sha.


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Go Itami, Issei Suda, Kayo Ume, Kazuo Yoshida, Kyoungtae Kim, Lieko Shiga, Mika Kitamura, Naoya Hatakeyama, Seung Woo Back, Shomei Tomatsu, Taisuke Koyama, Takuma Nakahira

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2013, Oct 18
Shomei Tomatsu, “make”

I don’t buy photobooks that often, and this is especially true of new ones, but I could not help myself when it came to Shomei Tomatsu’s “make,” published by Super Labo 1. “make” is, in some sense, Tomatsu’s final work: he was closely involved in the editing and sequencing of this book. There’s a broad range of images from Tomatsu’s career, but his most recent work stood out to me. People know Tomatsu as a black-and-white photographer of Shinjuku kids, or maybe as a color photographer of Okinawa, but who knew that, in his later years, he was putting together psychedelic still lifes of motherboards on the beach?

http://www.superlabo.com/catalogue/spl039st/index_l.html: Super Labo has really improved the overall quality of their books in the past year


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Shomei Tomatsu

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2013, Jan 08
A few Japanese reactions to Shomei Tomatsu’s passing

Here some translations of reactions on Twitter to the sad news regarding Shomei Tomatsu. (The original Japanese is linked after.) Just one personal note: Tomatsu was given an incredible name for a photographer, as Shomei (照明) literally means “light,” as in “illumination.” His real name was actually Teruaki, but that’s just a different reading the same characters.

Kenji Takazawa, critic

Shomei Tomatsu. Definitely a great figure of post-war Japanese photography. I wish him happiness in the next world. [J 1] I have the still-fresh memory of reading an article in the September 2012 issue of Nihon Camera about a workshop in Okinawa that Tomatsu gave to young photographers on digital photography. The reporter was Keizo Kitajima. “He’s still got energy,” I even thought to myself. [J 2] Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Masahisa Fukase and Tomatsu all passed away last year. It’s a little trite to say, but it feels like the turning point of an age… [J 3]

Yuhki Touyama, photographer

I’m thinking about the seminar I went to 10 years ago in Okinawa. Glad I was able to go. [J 4]

Kiyoshi Inoue, photographer

Shomei Tomatsu has passed away. He was a photographer I greatly respected. He pursued the clear perception of the times and photographic expression. I only met him once, but I won’t forget his magnetism as a photographer.  [J 5]

Kyohei Sakaguchi, architect/writer

Shomei Tomatsu passed away… When I was in high school I wanted to be a photographer, so I was excited whenever I could see a photobook. After I came to Tokyo I saw “Oh! Shinjuku” in a library and was immediately even more excited. Yep, I originally wanted to be a photographer. I still have a photobook I made in high school, lol. But really, lol. [J 6]


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Shomei Tomatsu

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2011, Sep 17
Update: Famous Japanese Photographers at Big European Gallery

From September 10 to October 29, Jablonka Pasquer Projects in Cologne will be showing an exhibition featuring four Japanese photographers: Nobuyoshi Araki, Daido Moriyama, Yutaka Takanashi, Shomei Tomatsu.

Here’s my knee-jerk reaction to reading about this exhibit: this is exactly the kind of conservative, “Moriyama syndrome” show that major galleries or institutions put on when they want to “go Japanese.” All that’s missing is Hiroshi Sugimoto, just for good measure—SFMOMA actually did this a couple of years ago. There’s no attempt to draw some kind of link between the four dudes, just “here’s some famous Japanese photography—please buy some!”

To be fair, Priska Pasquer is heavily invested in Japanese photography, and they recently gave the excellent Lieko Shiga a solo show. From a business perspective, I can also understand why it is necessary to put on a big boring show: this stuff will sell more than an up and coming artist. Yet I feel little sympathy at the moment. This exhibit only perpetuates the idea that “Japanese photography” is equal to “the work of men breathing around 1970.”


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Daido Moriyama, Exhibits outside of Japan, Nobuyoshi Araki, Shomei Tomatsu, Yutaka Takanashi

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