Tomatsu Shomei Tokyo ca.1969

東松照明 Tomatsu Shomei
Tomatsu Shomei Tokyo ca.1969

Friday, May 26 – Saturday, July 8, 2023
Tuesday-Saturday 12:00-19:00 (Closed on Mon, Sun, Public holidays)

Press Release

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MISA SHIN GALLERY is pleased to present a solo exhibition Tomatsu Shomei Tokyo ca.1969 from Friday, May 26 – Saturday, July 8, 2023.

The student- and youth-led movement for social change that began with the May 68 uprising in France rapidly spread across the world, igniting the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia and the Vietnam War protests in the United States. The spark that flew to Japan quickly flared up, and as the center of the hippie and anti-war movements, Shinjuku came to symbolize that chaotic era. Tomatsu had spent most of his post-university years living in Tokyo in the Shinjuku district, and he, too, would rush to the West Exit of Shinjuku Station whenever he received an anonymous tip by telephone about some impending action, to click away furiously, day after day.

The Shinjuku of the late 1960s was a perfect subject for photography, and this became the stage upon which Tomatsu took photos imbued with extemporaneity and physicality that convey speed and dynamism. At the same time, in his approach to urban landscapes and architecture, he criticized mass production and mass consumption during Japan’s period of rapid economic growth, and he leaned toward a static design sensibility that was keenly structural.

Along with being an era of questioning and rebelling against old values and systems, the latter half of the 1960s was also a time when avant-garde art movements flourished, and when people from different fields such as art, architecture, theater, and music went beyond the boundaries of their own genres to interact and push each other. Tomatsu voraciously immersed himself in activities that transcended boundaries, such as making movies, participating in exhibitions, and collaborating with dancers and actors.

The exhibit displays approximately twenty of Tomatsu Shomei’s vintage photographs from the 1960s to 1970s, a time when Japan was boiling with passion and energy and Tomatsu was running full-tilt as a photographer. Beginning with Oh! Shinjuku, which captures the mayhem of Shinjuku around 1968, the exhibition also shows photographs from the Asphalt series, a microscopic view of the city in which things worn down and buried by the tires running on Tokyo road surfaces are revealed, a photo of the rear side of a computer with the ruined appearance of a remnant of modern society, and Alibi, work that sprouted from street performance.

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