Issei Suda

Life In Flower

Sep 11 - Oct 18, 2014

From September 11 to October 18, 2014, MIYAKO YOSHINAGA is pleased to present “Issei Suda: Life In Flower 1971-1977,” featuring over 30 vintage and modern gelatin silver prints by Issei Suda (b.1940). Suda, a prolific 74-year-old Japanese photographer, is best known for his captivating street portraits exploring the mysterious and witty aspects of human life. An opening reception for the exhibition will be held Thursday, September 11, 6-8pm.  The exhibition features Suda’s signature square medium-format black-and-white photographs of ordinary people in public places in and around Tokyo in the 1970s.  Nearly four decades later, the images with fine detail and rich tonality in this exhibition immortalize the compelling nature of these unlikely subjects. 

 From 1971 to 1977, Suda traveled to traditional festivals where he found old-fashioned customs, rituals, and most importantly, exuberant participants and spectators. During this same period, Suda chronicled people engaged in their daily lives on the streets of Tokyo.  Crosscurrents of rural and urban, extraordinary and ordinary, and traditional and modern during the rapid urbanization of Japan in the 70’s run through Suda’s seminal twin works; Fushi Kaden (“The Flowering Spirit,” 1978) and Waga Tokyo 100 (“My Tokyo 100,” 1979). This exhibition represents selections from both series.

 During this era, many young Japanese photographers followed the street photography style made popular by artists such as William Klein and Robert Frank who took spontaneous pictures of public places and people.  Suda’s portraits, though serendipitous and unposed, often conjure a subtle artificiality.  Whether in full-length, three-quarter, or close-up views, his subjects are mostly single individuals shot against tightly cropped backgrounds.  They look lively yet a little off-kilter, trapped in a moment between conscious and unconscious states.  His landscapes and still-lifes set an otherworldly mood, a sort of Eastern film-noir.  Suda’s unusual viewpoint looks beyond the immediate subject, resulting in a final image that projects uncanny dissonance and curiosity.

 Issei Suda was born in Tokyo in 1940 and graduated from the Tokyo College of Photography in 1962. By mid 1970s, Suda emerged as a promising new photographer through his work in the photo magazines, particularly the trend-setting Camera Mainichi.  In 1976 his first major series Fushi Kaden earned him the Newcomer's Award from the Photographic Society of Japan.  Suda was one of 19 artists included in Japan: A Self-Portrait, the 1979 exhibition at the International Center of Photography, New York.  In the next four decades, Suda continued to produce many acclaimed series, including Waga Tokyo 100 (1979), Monogusa Syui (1982), Ningen no Kioku (1996) and Minyou Sanga (2007). He has held numerous solo exhibitions in and out of Japan, and most recently last year, the artist’s first major retrospective at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. Suda’s work has been represented by San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and The J. Paul Getty Museum among others. 

 This exhibition is organized in collaboration with Mark Pearson and Zen Foto Gallery, Tokyo and in consultation with Mihyun Kang.  An accompanying exhibition booklet as well as 2013 monograph “Waga Tokyo 100”(published by Zen Foto Gallery) are available upon request.


MIYAKO YOSHINAGA is dedicated to mounting a series of important solo exhibitions by contemporary Japanese photographers.  Last year, the gallery organized a successful exhibition entitled Eikoh Hosoe: Curated Body 1959-1970.