Shomei Tomatsu (1930-2012) is somehow born in the shadow of war. At the end of the conflict in 1945, he was fifteen years old. He was not called to the front but witnessed the bombing of his hometown, Nagoya.
Tomatsu began self-taught photography in the early 1950s. Throughout his career, he immersed himself more and more in the reality that surrounded him, in a devastated country, marked by the sequels left by the war. Thus, in a very realistic language but avoiding photojournalism, Tomatsu shows the wounds of war veterans, the poverty of the streets, but also the rebirth of political life.
In 1958, he decided to take a trip to understand what was the daily life of the North American military bases that occupied his country. His investigative eye then focused on the daily aspect of soldiers’ lives, but also on the violence that many women perceived as sexual objects. were victims of.
Shortly after, he met and photographed in Nagasaki some hibakushas (survivors) whose bodies and broken lives reminded of the nuclear bombs.
In the 1960s, as Japan moved away from the economic and social crisis, Tomatsu took the pulse of student revolts challenging the status quo and protesting against the Vietnam War. He was also able to capture the sexual effervescence of those who refused the hegemonic moral order, as can be seen in his photo book Oh! Shinjuku (1969).
In the 1980s, following a heart attack, Tomatsu sought nature, sometimes polluted by man, a space of meditation on the passage of time, an element that can also be found in the Okinawa archipelago and in the South Seas.
Tomatsu’s photography is essential to understanding post-war Japan. His images do not seek to transcribe the pure reflection of reality, but his work is imbued with the complexity of human existence. To this end, he used high and low-angles, bold framing and other means that add an avant-garde touch to his visual language.
Juan Vicente Aliaga – Curator of the exhibition
On view until September 16, 2018
Casa Garriga Nogués