'Daido Moriyama: A Retrospective' opens at The Photographers' Gallery
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'Daido Moriyama: A Retrospective' opens at The Photographers' Gallery
Daido Moriyama Yokosuka, 1965. From Japan, a Photo Theater. Daido Moriyama/Daido Moriyama Photo Foundation.

LONDON.- The Photographers’ Gallery presents the first UK retrospective of work by the acclaimed Japanese photographer, Daido Moriyama (b.1938).

Featuring over 200 works, spanning from 1964 until the present day, Daido Moriyama: A Retrospective traverses different moments of Moriyama’s vast and productive career.

Taking over the whole Gallery, this exhibition celebrates one of the most innovative and influential artists and street photographers of our day. Championing photography as a democratic language, Moriyama inserted himself up close with Japanese society, capturing the clash of Japanese tradition with an accelerated Westernization in post-war Japan. With his non-conformist approach and desire to challenge the medium, his work is tirelessly unpretentious, raw, blurred, radical and grainy and has defined the style of an entire generation.

“Forget everything you’ve learned on the subject of photography for the moment, and just shoot. Take photographs - of anything and everything, whatever catches your eye. Don’t pause to think." – Daido Moriyama

Moriyama has spent his sixty-year career asking a fundamental question: what is photography? He rejected the dogmatism of art and the veneration of vintage prints, making the accessible and reproducible aspects of photography its most radical asset. Over and over, he reused his photographs in different contexts, experimenting with enlargements, crops and printing. Most of his work was made for printed pages rather than gallery walls. Fittingly, Daido Moriyama: A Retrospective is the first UK exhibition to showcase many of his rare photobooks and magazines.

These publications, dating from early rare editions and out-of-print Japanese magazines to more recent titles, are on show alongside large-scale works and installations. The magazines and photobooks will give visitors unrivalled access to abundant archival and visual material to view, read and discover.

Presented in two phases of Moriyama’s work, Daido Moriyama: A Retrospective starts with Moriyama’s early work for Japanese magazines, his challenging of photojournalism, his experiments in Provoke magazine and the conceptual radicalization of his photobook Farewell Photography (1972). During this period, he established his unique aesthetic, famously known as are, buke, boke (meaning ‘grainy, blurry, out of focus’).

The second part of the exhibition starts in the 1980s, when Moriyama overcame a creative and personal crisis. In the following decades, he explored the essence of photography and of his own self, developing a visual lyricism with which he reflected on reality, memory and history.

Moriyama renewed street photography inside and outside Japan. His wanderings led him to cover miles in Tokyo, Osaka and Hokkaido, but also New York, Paris, São Paulo and Cologne. His work and travels are showcased in Record magazine, which the photographer continues to publish today.

Daido Moriyama: A Retrospective is curated by Thyago Nogueira, Instituto Moreira Salles, São Paulo, Brazil.

Daido Moriyama: A Retrospective is the product of a three-year research period, and is one of the most comprehensive exhibitions ever mounted of this artist’s work. It is organised by Instituto Moreira Salles in cooperation with the Daido Moriyama Photo Foundation.

The accompanying catalogue Daido Moriyama: A Retrospective is published by Prestel, 45.

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