Negaeropolis is a series of color photographs featuring subjects consistently found in Araki’s work: nudes, flowers, dolls, and the streets of Tokyo, among other scenes from the artist’s everyday life. In this new body of work, Araki has made photographs of images exactly as they appear on the film negatives. The inverted images, with their complementary hues and orange mask characteristic of negative film, appear simultaneously vibrant and yet somber, expressing how the two sides of film- positive and negative- are inextricably linked together, serving as a metaphor for yin and yang and Araki’s own personal view of life and death.
Composed of the Japanese characters for “Right Eye” (Ugan) and “Cemetery” (Bochi), the seriesUganbochi features scenes of Tokyo, primarily of a cemetery in the city, photographed in black and white with a partially cracked lens shattered intentionally by the artist. The resulting images, blurry in the center but relatively in focus on the periphery, are analogous to the vision from Araki’s right eye, which has disappeared almost completely due to an obstructed retinal artery since the end of 2013. The works also appear to express a view from the “this world” (Sigan) to “the other world” (Higan) based on the Buddhist idea of enlightenment that is also a theme often found in the artist’s work. All of the photographs in the Uganbochi series are imprinted with the date of August 15, referring to the day marking the end of World War II seventy years ago, and revealing Araki’s emotions towards post-war Japan and how urban cities such as Tokyo are becoming increasingly symbolic of a graveyard.
...Araki’s latest work both playfully and austerely addresses his personal relationship to his beloved native city, the metropolis of Tokyo.
- Excerpt from press release Nobuyoshi Araki's exhibition NEGAEROPOLIS UGANBOCHI (26th September - 27th October 2015), Rat Hole Gallery.