Erotic Encounters: Nobuyoshi Araki

Erotic photography is a visual style quite underrated by the Art world. Although, it’s been there for some time, it’s not the kind of genre we often see on the magazines.

Erotic is the rebel child of the craft. It depicts the body in a sensual way. Quite often, it’s confused with porno. However, contrary to porno, erotic photography suggests short encounters with the human body and leaves the rest to the imagination. Nothing could be more visually enhancing than playing with the body, trying to adjust the lens to certain parts, appealing to the erotic fantasies we all once had.

Erotic is here to stay. But, who could think of a better provocateur than the Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki?

Araki is the indisputable master of the craft. His prolific career includes hundreds of books from intimate candid shots to beautiful models tied down  (kinbaku) half naked. 

Araki is an authentic fetishist,  much criticised, much admired he pushed the boundaries of photography for nearly 50 years, opening new ways of seeing the world. Visionary, sexually obsessed and highly eccentric, no one can deny he brought in a particular approach. He defied taboos, in a country obsessed with sex, but not quite ready to admit it yet.

After studying photography at the Chiba University Araki went to work as a commercial photographer for the advertising agency Dentsu. In 1971 he published his first book “Sentimental Journey”.  The book depicts photographs of his honeymoon, which he later in 1991 continued, documenting his wife love and lost.

Sentimental Journey was a massive success, it exposed his work to a broader audience and marked the beginning, as he would say, of his professional career. Around the same time came to life Tokyo Lucky Hole, 1985 and The banquet (Shokuji) 1993 also very celebrated pieces of work. He switches from portraying Tokyo thriving sex industry to food photography and intimate shoots with extraordinary skill. Always suggesting sex and desire, offering visual pleasure at its best.

Bjork and lady Gaga are some of the well-known names that posed for him alongside numerous unknown women. One time, his fascination for the female body got him arrested for violating local obscenity laws. A night in jail and not camera available hasn’t stopped him of portraying a prostitute witness of his nocturnal experience, this time a beautiful draw came as a result.

Despite that, is the city that inspires him the most. The ever evolving Tokyo is the stirring backdrop for Araki photographs. The desire for intimacy, the lascivious appetites and the infinite voyeuristic encounters meet in a super technological city, where pleasure is bought and sold. Although, we don’t see the streets we could guess the place his subjects come from. The food, the women, the flowers all is surrounded by a sort of sexual desire. We can’t stop but ask for more.


araki (slitsight)