There are few masters of the camera who are as evocative as Daido Moriyama, one of the most revered living Japanese photographers and an inspiration for generations around the world. Daido Moriyama’s work is saturated with the melancholic beauty of life at its most ordinary. His street photography occupies a unique space between the illusory and the real; his images are disorientating, almost disturbing, communicating at a subliminal level the disjunctive nature of the contemporary urban experience.
A CLASH OF CULTURES.
Born near Osaka in 1938, Moriyama grew up in a post-war Japan that was undergoing a complete reconstruction and gradually re-emerging from the devastation of the war. Moriyama witnessed the dramatic changes that took place in a country strongly conditioned by the American occupation, representing through his photography the conflicting realities of traditional Japan and American imported values, customs and myths.
Through his exploration of themes of self-expression, the disfiguration of urban landscapes, the eroticism and fading Japanese traditions, Moriyama is the photographer that best interpreted the accelerated modernisation, the clash of ancient and new, its consequences, its casualties.
AN IMPRESSIONISTIC TAKE ON THE DARK SIDE OF URBAN LIFE.
Daido Moriyama’s street photography is best known for his confrontational black-and-white images that challenged the rigid artistic formalities of the Japanese photographic scene at the time. He invented a new visual language, rejecting the pursuit of technical precision in favour of grainy, blurry and high-contrast images, produced by a compact camera.
Moriyama’s street photography is gritty, often out of focus, vertiginously tilted or invasively cropped: these black and white images are studies in patterns, light, shadow, and form. The result is deconstructed and hypnotic, intriguing and seductive. Disorientating, almost disturbing. But in this intensely personal haze the image becomes more powerful, communicating on a totally subliminal plane with the viewer, capturing the essence of the diaristic experience of wandering city streets.
A SELF-PROCLAIMED ADDITION TO URBAN LIFE.
‘The city has everything: comedy, tragedy, eulogy, eroticism’ he has once remarked in an interview. ‘It is the ideal setting, the place where people’s desires are interwoven. It has remained and will always remain my natural element’.
Daido Moriyama has a self-proclaimed addiction to urban life. In his late years, his work still shares the same inclination to record his surroundings as his earliest pictures. In his fascination with cities (and Tokyo in particular), Moriyama’s camera captures the melancholic beauty of everyday life at its most ordinary. A harsh, though affectionate, vision of city life: its hypnotic chaos, the unusual characters of the bizarre underworld of Japanese street life, all mixed up with a sense of the theatrical and the erotic.
BEAUTY AND IMPERFECTION AND BEAUTY IN THE IMPERFECTION.
Moriyama’s work is the epitome of wabi-sabi, the Japanese aesthetic of finding beauty in imperfection. His camera and his printing (he makes all his prints himself) are voracious, hungry all the time. He focuses in on the lost and the discarded, with the intent of seeking beauty and meaning in every scrap of reality the sun reveals to his eye, finding echoes of living where no one else has cared to look.
Daido Moriyama’s photography is made solely by instinct, raw need, decisions dictated by the gut, not the head. In his images there is no logic, there is no thought, only a need to satisfy. Looking at his pictures is like taking on the visual perception of a wild animal that roams around in a frenetic search for food.
After fifty-five years photographing the streets of Tokyo, the city seen through Moriyama’s lens has its commonplaces: the image of an image, torn, folded and seen through glass or plastic mesh; warped grids; the single shoe, kicked off kerbside; the sensual, disembodied mouth; the fat tangle of ventilation pipes squirming from the sides of a building like glimpsed entrails. The result is a completely instinctive photography, deeply erotic and passionate whether it be the shining metal of a powerful motorbike, a head-and-shoulders portrait of a beautiful girl against a blur of neon lights, a red vending machine standing next to snow-crusted bicycles, the detail of a women’s lips.
THE REBEL AND THE JOURNEY.
With his action-oriented approach to street photography, Moriyama captures his subjects while walking through the streets, using a small hand-held camera as if it were an extension of his body. To Moriyama, photography is all about capturing the natural movement and expression of whatever his subject is, in that particular moment.
His work is the never-ending journey of a rebel: his incessant search for encounters, faces, places; a relentless wandering, an insatiable desire of experience. One of Daido Moriyama’s best-known images is the picture of a stray dog he encountered on a street in Aomori in northern Japan. Taken in 1971, it has become a metaphor for his way of working, symbolising his relentless wanderings though the streets of Tokyo in search of the essence of the city – an essence that for him often lies in the overlooked and the everyday, the makeshift and the mundane.
His nourishment is experience, entering in continuous contact with the multiple nature of the human being and the world. In his life on the street Moriyama is not a reporter, he doesn’t want to capture the emotions of others but express his own: his pictures are a simultaneous response to the impact of the outside world and everything in his photography expresses pure subjectivity; he is always the direct protagonist of his work, he himself consumes actions and emotions.
As a brand, we share Daido Moriyama passion for cities and urban life. His action-oriented approach to street photography resonates with us. We love his photographic techniques, his bold, uncompromising style, with grainy, high-contrast images: this is exactly what we also aim to achieve with our creations, designed to blend nonconformist techniques with a raw approach towards the day-to-day. But what fascinates us the most is the uniqueness of the moment and individual experience at the basis of his work. There is no moment equal to another even if you repeat the same gesture. Photography allows the artist to describe the uniqueness of what we are living, what we feel in that particular moment. In this sense the experience has no end, it is inexhaustible.