Sentimental Journey and Winters Journey
Perhaps the most prolific artist (dead or alive) to emerge from Japan, Nobuyoshi Araki is as indiscriminate with his mediums as he is with his subjects. Spanning the fields of fine art, fashion and even pornographic film and photography; it is Araki, more than any other photographer, for whom the camera has truly come to act as extension of his own body.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Araki’s body of work is its capacity to shock, both in terms of the vulgarity of his imagery and also in its breadth. ‘Described as a pornographer, a monster, a genius, a “dirty uncle” and much else besides’ (The Guardian: Dirty Pretty Things) his photography is both condemned for its controversial eroticism and revered for its mischievous ingenuity.
The most fascinating diversion from all that is accepted as crude, base and derogatory in Araki’s work comes in the form of the series’ Sentimental Journey and Winter Journey. Both are poignantly sentimental portrayals of the artist’s wife Yoko, and the birth and death of their life together. Sentimental Journey documents the couple’s wedding and honeymoon, whilst Winter Journey tells of his wife’s illness and eventual death in 1990. Throughout both series the camera acts as an unflinching eye, capturing the most intimate and rarely shared moments. From orgasm to illness, the images are a somewhat surprising testament of love and of the reality of life and its bereavements.
Araki later spoke of Winter Journey as something of a love letter explaining ‘If I hadn’t documented her death, both the description of my state of mind and my declaration of love would have been incomplete.’
Contextually the series’ are a welcome relief from the relentless, if somewhat mischievous, eroticism of Araki’s work. His frankness, and lack of self-consciousness are addictive, as is witnessing the product of a man whose life is indistinguishable from his work.