Emi Anrakuji


May 31 - Jul 7, 2018

From May 31 to July 7, 2018, MIYAKO YOSHINAGA is pleased to present Just Love, a solo exhibition of the award-winning Tokyo-based photographer Emi Anrakuji. This will be her sixth solo exhibition at the gallery. The opening reception will be held Thursday, May 31 from 6-8pm. The artist will be present.

In her tour-de-force cinematic black-and-white photographs, Anrakuji deploys her own body as a critical tool to establish her singular style. Her half-clothed or naked body performs various mundane acts in a claustrophobic and high-contrast setting. Her work evokes alluring daydream abstractions through an intentional lack of depth and context.

The exhibition Just Love showcases Anrakuji’s latest 27 photographs in her signature intimate scale. The series begins with her rising from bed, flirtatiously trying on clothes, collapsing onto the floor, and stepping over the edge of a bathtub. The images of her body within a confined space symbolize the limited mobility she experienced due to a serious illness more than a decade ago. In one image, she pushes her hands and feet against a flight of stairs like a worm crawling out of its hole. She eventually makes her way to a balcony where she soaks up the sun and joyfully dances with her own shadow. The shadows in the photographs literally spell out “JUST LOVE.

Blurring the boundaries between art and life, Anrakuji’s emotionally complex work is rooted in her life events. The title, Just Love, is an ode to her new life after long suffering, a rebirth that Anrakuji describes as filled with “love.” The love she freezes onto her frames manifests in myriad forms including grief and pain. As she writes, “Stepping away from my 6-foot universe into a world full of light with shadows becoming increasingly darker, I feel a bit dizzy yet also at ease. Here and now, I dance with the light, at one point cradling the carcass of my cat and crying uncontrollably, I imprint the expression of my life titled Just Love. Love continuously washes away the dirt in my heart. Simply, plainly, all there needs to be is ‘love.’”

Just Love is the personal yet universal story of one living being’s journey of regaining a spirit of hope and desire.

Emi Anrakuji (b. 1963) lives in Tokyo, Japan, where she studied oil painting at Musashino University of Art and Music. In the late 80s she was diagnosed with cerebral cancer which caused a severe degradation of her eyesight forcing her to quit painting. During this period, she taught herself photography using the camera lens as a replacement for her eyes. Since 2001 her work has been exhibited extensively across the United States, Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom, Spain, and France. A Higashikawa New Photograph Prize winner in 2006, Anrakuji participated in the Daegu Photo Biennale in South Korea in 2008 and PHotoEspaña in 2017. Her work has been featured in several notable publications including FOAM, The New Yorker, and IMA. She has also published five monographs—HMMT? (2005) from Yu-Time Shuppan, Anrakuji (2006), e-hagaki (2006), and IPY (2008) from Nazraeli Press, and MISHO (2017) from SHINTO editions.

  • solo exhibition