‘I gave this series the name Private Scenes because everybody and everything I photograph is a projection of myself.’

– Fukase, 1990.

  • In 1992 Masahisa Fukase was the subject of a solo exhibition at Tokyo’s Nikon Salon. Showing pictures taken between 1990 and 1992, these series were to become Fukase’s last works before he suffered a fatal accident in the months following the exhibition. Private Scenes ’92 illustrated an important conclusion to Fukase’s lifelong struggle with the limits of his medium; Of the 450 prints hung with drawing pins at the Nikon Salon, every picture constituted a self-portrait. Our exhibition reflects the legacy of this final show, bringing together three series which Fukase created concurrently and intended for display together.

     

     

    The centrepiece of the exhibition was a body of work entitled Berobero, an onomatopoeic word which refers to both tongues and licking. In these self-portraits, Fukase captured himself touching tongues with men and women of all ages, many of whom he encountered in bars around Shinjuku in Tokyo.

  • BEROBERO

    Installation: 'Private Scenes 1992', Nikon Salon, Tokyo
  • ‘The sensation of the person looking and the sensation of the person being looked at are like the ends of...

    ‘The sensation of the person looking and the sensation of the person being looked at are like the ends of their touching tongues. The tongue is an extremely powerful sensual organ.’

    – Fukase quoted in an interview with Ishiuchi Miyako (pictured left), Image Forum, 1991.

  • Already a renowned member of Japan’s photography community, Fukase captured himself in the company of many of his famous peers, including Daidō Moriyama, Ishiuchi Miyako and Nobuyoshi Araki. Fukase was no longer focussed on technical virtuosity or visual coherence, instead concentrating on the direct relationship between photographer and subject, and the experience of capturing this interaction.

  • BEROBERO - AVAILABLE WORKS

  • HIBI

    Installation: 'Private Scenes 1992', Nikon Salon, Tokyo
  • If the pictures from Berobero show a record of Fukase’s drunken nights, photographs from the adjoining series Hibi provide a visual document of his solitary days walking around Tokyo. The images are aesthetically linked by Fukase’s embellishments in watercolour paint and ink, this time applied in abstract patterns across the surface of pavements and asphalt. His physical presence in these pictures is understated, using thumbprints and shadows to hint at his experience of ‘walk[ing] with my head lowered, looking at the cracks in the ground.’

     

    Many Japanese photographers, most notably Shōmei Tōmatsu and Kikuji Kawada, created abstract compositions based on the ground, focussing on the textural variation and evidence of decay they saw around themselves. By capturing the surface on which they stood, artists like Tōmatsu and later Fukase were creating records which affirmed the presence of their perspective in the material world as well as the camera’s unique capacity to translate this reality.

     

    Fukase may have been influenced in his adoption of the hand-colouring process by his contemporary, Nobuyoshi Araki, who had experimented widely with paints and calligraphic additions in his work from the same period. During this time of introspection Fukase returned to some of his own archival photographs from as far back as 1972 to retrospectively add the colours which lend his late photography its characteristic intimacy and emotion.

  • HIBI - AVAILABLE WORKS

    • Masahisa Fukase, HIBI 29, 1991
      Masahisa Fukase, HIBI 29, 1991
      £ 11,000.00 excludes tax, framing & shipping
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    • Masahisa Fukase, HIBI 34, 1991
      Masahisa Fukase, HIBI 34, 1991
      £ 11,000.00 excludes tax, framing & shipping
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    • Masahisa Fukase, HIBI 55, 1991
      Masahisa Fukase, HIBI 55, 1991
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    • Masahisa Fukase, HIBI 56, 1991
      Masahisa Fukase, HIBI 56, 1991
      £ 11,000.00 excludes tax, framing & shipping
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    • Masahisa Fukase, HIBI 73, 1991
      Masahisa Fukase, HIBI 73, 1991
      £ 11,000.00 excludes tax, framing & shipping
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    • Masahisa Fukase, HIBI 75, 1991
      Masahisa Fukase, HIBI 75, 1991
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    • Masahisa Fukase, HIBI 83, 1991
      Masahisa Fukase, HIBI 83, 1991
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    • Masahisa Fukase, HIBI 84, 1990
      Masahisa Fukase, HIBI 84, 1990
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  • PRIVATE SCENES

    Installation: 'Private Scenes 1992', Nikon Salon, Tokyo
  • The exhibition title Private Scenes was taken from an earlier series which Fukase undertook at the close of the 1980s, and which he revisited for his display in 1992. During travels which encompassed trips to Paris, London, Brussels, Antwerp, Pompeii and India, Fukase had begun to take pictures of himself before a changing landscape, in a style similar to today’s ‘selfies’.

  • Masahisa Fukase, Private Scenes - Untitled, 1991

    Masahisa Fukase

    Private Scenes - Untitled, 1991

    ‘My photographs have changed a lot. In order to include myself in these photos, I’ve been working without a viewfinder […] The viewfinder is a useless component for me. I’ve had an intuitive understanding of the field of vision for many years; my eyes have become a 35mm lens.’ – Fukase, quoted in an accompanying text to Private Scenes ’92, Nikon Salon, 1992.

  • Fukase had come to embrace photography as an act of inescapable self-expression. Having shied away from public appearances and declamatory statements throughout his career, after 1990 Fukase became more open to discussions about his life and work. The existential conclusions pointed at his exhibition appear to have clarified his attitude, so that he was free to turn away from those closest to him and indulge in an extensive exploration of his own identity.

  • ‘Unlike anything else he photographed, whether it was animals like ravens and cats, or the people around him like his wife or immediate family, the self-portraits that he took during his later years express his self-representation point of view unlike anything else.

    - Tomo Kosuga, Masahisa Fukase Archives, 2018.

     

  • PRIVATE SCENES - AVAILABLE WORKS

    • Masahisa Fukase, Private Scenes - Untitled, 1991
      Masahisa Fukase, Private Scenes - Untitled, 1991
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    • Masahisa Fukase, Private Scenes - Untitled, 1992
      Masahisa Fukase, Private Scenes - Untitled, 1992
      £ 19,000.00 excludes tax, framing & shipping
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    • Masahisa Fukase, Private Scenes - Untitled, 1991
      Masahisa Fukase, Private Scenes - Untitled, 1991
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  • Private Scenes at Michael Hoppen Gallery

    Installation Sept 2020