This collection of surviving images by Japanese artist Osamu Shiihara (1905-1974) provides an overview of Shiihara’s idiosyncratic photographic output.
Originally trained as a painter, Shiihara began to experiment with photography around the time he set up a painting studio following his graduation in 1932. The images in this photobook range from his earliest photographs in the 1930s to the 1940s (most of the images lacking a precise date).
Shiihara’s photographs show a high degree of experimentation, his subjects including children playing on the street, shadow plays, abstract interplay of patterns or shadow and light, experiments with exposure and chemical developing as well as almost photojournalistic images (e.g., depicting abysmal living conditions). The book is concluded by a short essay written by Shiihara’s son (in Japanese and English) and includes a table of works.
“[My father] has been noted to have said that photography ‘should not keep going down the same path as painting.’ The puzzle then is no longer a mystery. I now understand that in regard to painting, he believed in the reality through seeing, and in photography, the imagination itself that can be seen, and brought those things into shape.”
— from Tamotsu Shiihara’s afterword