Kishin Shinoyama’s offerings from the 1960’s not only document a decade, but are also invaluable to any survey of Tokyo photography from that period. His work reveals much about the era, depicting snapshots of the student protest movement, fashion shows, dancers, avant-garde theatre troops and of course the nude shots that would subsequently form a major motif in his oeuvre.
1960’s Japan was a politically charged place experiencing rapid economic growth under the alliance with the United States. Politics, culture, society… this was the decade when ‘possibilities’ reached a critical point as contradicting elements were forced to react with one another. The photographs emerging from the Japanese capital during this period constitute the place where this metamorphosis occurred in the most radical way, and it was in the midst of this charged atmosphere that Shinoyama was taking his photographs.
The Sixties by Kishin are a vital record of how Shinoyama rediscovered and redefined photography. This was not by using photography to critique the era, as was the case with many of his contemporaries, but by bringing a criticality to the photograph itself. Inspired by the Apollo moon landing, Shinoyama’s Death Valley photographs were arranged completely by the artist, from the models to the location of the shoot. In the photographs he positions nudes of three different races in the frontier land of the desert, and by placing foreign bodies in the form of naked human figures in the landscape, displays a classic Shinoyama technique – that of highlighting the hidden meaning in a place. His work has a fearsome, non-reflective radicalism that has continued throughout his career and that defines his imagery since the 1960’s.
Kishin Shinoyama’s work is held in private and public collections worldwide.