Hiro Kikai “Ya-Chimata”


poster for Hiro Kikai “Ya-Chimata”
[Image: Hiroh Kikai "A man who used to ride a Harley-Davidson", printed 1995,Photograph on paper H50.5 x W40.6 cm ©️Hiroh Kikai Courtesy of NANZUKA ]

This event has ended.

The exhibition marks the gallery’s first showcasing of works by a photographer. Kikai was born in 1945 in the Yamagata Prefecture. After graduating with a degree in philosophy from Hosei University, he underwent various occupations including a truck driver, a crewmember of an ocean-going tuna fishing boat, and a photographic developer before making his decision to pursue a career as a photographer. Since 1973, Kikai has continued to photograph people he encountered in Asakusa. Numerous publications have been released featuring the series of portraits spanning over 45 years that he had taken there such as, Otachi no shozo: Senso-ji keidai / Ecce homo: Portraits of kings (1987), Ya-Chimata: Otachi no kairo / Ya-Chimata: A gallery of kings (1996), Persona (2004), and Persona: Saishusho / Persona: The Final Chapter (2019). In 2004 he received the 23rd Domon Ken Award for his published collection of photographs Persona.

The most important point of Kikai’s works is the way in which he captures the lives and human nature of the people who serve as their subjects. Since 1973, Kikai has stood within the grounds of Senso-ji in Asakusa with his cherished Hasselblad SLR camera in hand, spending the most part of his day continuously gazing at the people passing by. He would photograph one to two, or a maximum of three people in a single day. He would stop and ask only those who attracted his attention in someway or another, in each instance taking portraits of them against the same plain red walls within the temple precinct. For Kikai, who states, “Portraits are about time. What I photograph is the time that person has come from, and the time to which they will go from now,” his relationship with his subjects is that which holds significant meaning. The people to whom Kikai turns his viewfinder are the anonymous and unnamed, from artisans to those in unemployment, those in the entertainment business, elderly people, students, housewives, yakuza, or even people whose occupation remain unknown. Nevertheless, Kikai refers to them as “kings” and captures their dignity. His sincerity, love, and curiosity that make this possible could indeed be regarded as the raw aspects embodied within his work.

Concurrently presented at Case (the former Nanzuka space located on B1 of the gallery building) is a solo exhibition featuring a concise selection from the portrait series of Shunji Dodo, a photographer who, like Kikai ,had deeply resonated with the works of Diane Arbus, and has continued to take photographs on the streets of Osaka’s Shinsekai district for over 40 years since 1980.



from January 10, 2020 to January 26, 2020

Opening Reception on 2020-01-10 from 18:00 to 20:00


Hiro Kikai



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