zaterdag 2 mei 2015

Views & Reviews Martin Parr on Paris Ihei Kimura 木村伊兵衛 Photography

KIMURA, Ihei. Paris(Tokyo: Norasha, 1974). Tall octavo, original white cloth, original photographic slipcase.
First edition of this significant work by one of Japan’s most important photo graphers, with 309 pages of photographs.

“Ihei Kimura… was Japan’s leading photographer of the immediate postwar period, and represented the dominant photographic aesthetic of that era: social documentary based on a broadly humanistic approach… Kimura… [was] influenced by classic photojournalism in the Cartier-Bresson mode, and [was] keen to set Japanese photography on a much more professional basis…

Paris was photographed during three visits to the city in 1954, 1955 and 1960, although the book was only published in 1974, the year of the photographer’s death… most of it was shot, in color, in the 1950s. When photographed, it was well ahead of its time…

Paris is notable for two things. Firstly, it has a distinctive color palette, composed of cool blues, grays, browns and purples.

Secondly, there is Kimura’s view of the city itself, which teeters between conventional travel photography and something much more original… It seems that Kimura decided to revisit the clichés and see what he could make of them, having been given a supply of new color film with which to experiment… What he appears to have discovered is a residue of Atget’s Paris… Kimura’s Paris, like Atget’s, is a nostalgic one, a city of crumbling textures and decaying structures, of courtyards and back alleys, of autumnal mists and winter gloom. Aided by his color palette, it is a much more romantic vision than Atget’s unsentimental view, but his book nevertheless has a distinctive voice that takes him beyond mere romanticism” (Parr & Badger I:268, 297). Text in Japanese.

Photographs, cloth, and slipcase beautiful and fine. A lovely copy of the photographs of one of Japan’s most notable photographers. 
The Japanese photojournalist Ihei Kimura was a keen adept of the Leica camera, which had been introduced to Japan in 1929 and a great admirer of Henri Cartier-Bresson. Kimura started portraying his native Tokyo in the early 1930s and is considered one of the photographers to have best captured the city’s spirit. In 1932 he co-founded the monthly photo magazine Koga to showcase the German-influenced New Photography movement in Japan and during the war worked as a photojournalist in Manchuria.
In the mid-fifties, Kimura made several trips to Europe, providing photographs for magazines.Kimura Ihei shashinshū: Pari, a collection of his colour photographs of Paris, would only be published in 1974, and outside of Japan, it was only known to a few enthusiasts until its exhibition in the Arles Festival in 2004.
Kimura’s photos are not only a reference to European culture (including photography), through the eyes of an outsider. They are also a testimonial. What looks somewhat nostalgic from today’s point of view was way ahead of its times then. Paris was a bustling Metropolis and Kimura photographed it in colour, something unheard of in the 50s.

On his return to Japan, Kimura concentrated on photographing rural life in Akita, and on portraits, particularly of writers. He died in his home in Japan in 1974, the year of publication of Pari.
Thirty years after, the 174 colour photographs of Paris have been newly edited together, offering also many unpublished works. The presented exhibition offers us a rare opportunity to enjoy the unseen work.
Ihei Kimura was a celebrated 20th Century Japanese Realism photographer. The objects in his pictures were commonalities found in his surroundings. Those new to photography often start with things nearby. It helps us practice getting along with our camera. Gradually, we then turn to something more special. But why don't we ever consider going back to basics? Ordinary scenes may look extraordinary through your camera! Not sure how it works? Let's refer to Ihei Kimura's photographs and we may get the answer.

Ihei Kimura (木村伊兵衛) was well-known for his documentary photographs. He was born in Tokyo, 1901, and like most photography lovers, he started to show his interest in taking pictures at very young age.

During his stay in Tainan, his curiosity for photography intensified. He went back to Tokyo and to run a photographic studio in 1924. He formed a group with Yōnosuke Natoriand others which emphasized Realism photography. Since then, Kimura began to obtain popularity from the society.

Ihei Kimura first attracted the world’s gaze when his photo collection of Paris,“Pari”, was released. At that time, he was traveling through several European cities and providing his photographic works to camera magazines. His color-photographs of Paris surprised everyone.

Another photo collection of his, Akita, also captured people’s attention. It was about the rural life of the Japanese in Akita. As Kimura was living in a period when Japan was undergoing transformation to a modern city, he used his photographs as vessels to present his reality to others as well.
The actual “look” of the city was reflected through Ihei Kimura’s photographs. People walking across the street, women applying makeup for their traditional Japanese performance and children playing in the park were all daily happenings. No additional decoration nor extra effect were included in the pictures – everything was “back to basic”. They were simple, but at the same time, presentable. Maybe that’s the reason why Kimura was famous. Do you agree?
His contribution to photography led to the set up of Kimura Ihei Award by the Asahi Shimbun Company in honor of him in 1975, one year after his passing. This award is in place to encourage new photographers in Japan. Award holders are selected from those who have exhibited or published their works the previous year. It’s regarded as an prestigious award in Japan and it’s one that’s highly anticipated every year!

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