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Aesthetics of the Interaction of Male and Female Bodies in Works of Eikoh Hosoe
28 december 2020 

Aesthetics of the Interaction of Male and Female Bodies in Works of Eikoh Hosoe

Eikoh Hosoe (born 1933) is a Japanese photographer and filmmaker who collaborated with Araki Nobuyoshi, the hero of our previous article, in the 1970s. His masterful black and white depictions of eroticism are the hymn to the human body and the triumph of the human imagination.

Eikoh Hosoe portrait

Hosoe in his studio, 1989 (Wikipedia.org)

“What’s In a Name?”

The real name of Eikoh Hosoe is Toshihiro Hosoe. The photographer took a new name as a symbol of Japan after World War II. We’ve mentioned this transformation of human consciousness in the article on the Dutch artist Karel Appel. Western and Eastern modern artists, in equal measure, feel that the world has changed dramatically. French philosopher Cioran wrote that he admired the Asian tradition of changing a name after surviving a cruel disease. Toshihiro/Eikoh Hosoe tells us by his symbolic gesture that he is a survived one, like all his contemporaries. A survived one and a different one.

Eikoh Hosoe Male and Female Bodies in Works 

Frame from “Navel and A-bomb” film (yokohamatriennale.jp)

Awards and A-Bomb

The childhood and schooling of Hosoe happened during wartime. At the age of 19, he was first awarded for his photographs of Fuji and two years later enrolled at the Tokyo School of Photography. Already in 1954, he finished his studies and became a freelance photographer. Then, in 1956, his first exhibition, “An American Girl In Tokyo,” happened. Four years after, Hosoe founded “The Jazz Film Laboratory” (Jazzu Eiga Jikken-shitsu) with writers Shuji Terayama and Shintaro Ishihara. Within this multidisciplinary artistic project, Hosoe created the short black and white film “Navel and A-Bomb” (Heso to genbaku).

Eikoh Hosoe Male body

Navel and A-bomb” (contemporaryartreview.la)

Man and Woman

In 1959, Hosoe created one of his famous series, “Man and Woman.” The masterful usage of contrast and composition allows Hosoe literally to embody his vision of male and female essence with a sense of humor and harmony.

Eikoh Hosoe Man and woman

Man and Woman” (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe nude

Man and Woman” (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe erotic

Man and Woman” (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe elbow

Man and Woman” (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe head

Man and Woman” (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe octopus

Man and Woman” (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe nudes

Man and Woman” (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe nude with birds

Man and Woman” (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Ordeal By Roses

At the beginning of the 1960s, Hosoe was given The Most Promising Photographer Award by the Association of Japanese Photo Critics. From 1961 to 1963, Hosoe made portraits of the writer and actor Yukio Mishima. The series of sado-erotic images, “Ordeal by Roses” (Bara-Kei), is focused on the male body surrounded by Renaissance oeuvres. As Allen Edwards mentions, Hosoe abstracts away from the real objects, their purpose, and meaning, and uses them only as material for his combinations, just like writers or composers use words and sounds.

Eikoh Hosoe ordeal by roses

Ordeal by roses” (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe

Ordeal by roses” (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe artist

Ordeal by roses” (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe photographer

Ordeal by Roses” (gbenard.files.wordpress.com)

“That Which We Call a Rose…”

Hosoe changes the specificity of the photograph, which is meant to be the most objective medium. His pictures are subjective, grotesque, and ghost-like. They demonstrate not the outer but the inner imaginative world. The rose is still a rose, but it can also be a palace, an elephant, a phallic or vaginal symbol in Hosoe’s objective lens. “Bara-Kei” was praised by Japanese photo critics. In 1970, Hosoe collaborated with Mishima for a new edition of this series. The same year, Mishima, unsatisfied with the political state of Japan, committed suicide.

Eikoh Hosoe rose

Ordeal by Roses” (gbenard.files.wordpress.com)

Eikoh Hosoe bondage

Ordeal by Roses” (gbenard.files.wordpress.com)

Eikoh Hosoe art

Ordeal by Roses” (gbenard.files.wordpress.com)

Eikoh Hosoe photograph

Ordeal by Roses” (gbenard.files.wordpress.com)

Eikoh Hosoe photographic art

Ordeal by Roses” (gbenard.files.wordpress.com)

Embrace

In 1971, Hosoe published the “Embrace” series he created at the end of the 1960s as a book. Hosoe’s adherence to composition and contrast reaches here its’ highest point. Watching the series, Yukio Mishima said the following: “The viscosity which is associated with sex – those earthly odors and temperatures of soft and indeterminately formed internal organs – has been painstakingly removed from these photographs. To me, this is a series filled with a hard, athletic beauty. First and foremost, it is about form.” (“Eikoh Hosoe. Theatre of Memory” (the prospect of the exhibition at NSW Art Gallery))

Eikoh Hosoe embrace

Embrace” (clairbykahn.com)

Eikoh Hosoe nude embrace

Embrace” (cahanbooks.com)

Eikoh Hosoe nude art

Embrace” (cahanbooks.com)

Eikoh Hosoe asses

Embrace” (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe leg

Embrace” (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe arm

Embrace” (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe bodies

Embrace” (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe nude body

Embrace” (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe nude art

Embrace” (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe nude male bodies

Embrace” (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe nude bodies

Embrace” (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe three nude bodies

Embrace” (tokinowasuremono.com)

Eikoh Hosoe photography art

Embrace” (tokinowasuremono.com)

Eikoh Hosoe nude embrace bodies

Embrace” (tokinowasuremono.com)

Eikoh Hosoe intercourse

Embrace” (tokinowasuremono.com)

Eikoh Hosoe arm in ass

Embrace” (tokinowasuremono.com)

Eikoh Hosoe embracing bodies

Embrace” (tokinowasuremono.com)

Workshops and Gaudi

In the 1970s, Hosoe began teaching at the universities of Phoenix, Columbia, and Yosemite. In 1974, he co-founded the Tōkyō School of Photography together with Nobuyoshi Araki and Daido Moriyama. From 1976 to 1984, the artist worked on a set of photographs of Gaudi’s architecture (published in the book “The Cosmos of Gaudi“).

Eikoh Hosoe gaudI

Casa Battlo 123” (tokinowasuremono.com)

Eikoh Hosoe Tatsuhiko Shibusawa

Tatsuhiko Shibusawa (from a portrait of an acquaintance)” 1965 (la-dolce-vita-mika.blog.ss-blog.jp)

Sagrada Familia 179

Sagrada Familia 179” (tokinowasuremono.com)

Palacio Guell 160

Palacio Guell 160” (tokinowasuremono.com)

Ukiyo-e Projections

This artistic experiment involving shunga pictures was a result of Hosoe’s collaboration with the Asbestos Dance Studio founded by Tatsumi Hijikata and his wife Akiko Motofuji. In 2003, the studio was to close after 40 years of activity, so Hosoe felt he needed to pay tribute to this project. In the series of performances, the studio dancers were asked to coordinate their movements with the projections of ukiyo-e engravings (mainly Utamaro and Kunisada) and Hosoe’s works on their naked white-painted bodies. Performances conjugated 2- and 3-dimensional objects balancing between engraving and sculpture.

Eikoh Hosoe SHUNGA PROJECTIONS

Shunga projection (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

shunga projections

Shunga projection (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe shunga art

Shunga projection (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

shunga eikoh hosoe

Shunga projection (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe utamaro

Shunga projection (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014)

Eikoh Hosoe ukiyo-e

Shunga projection (tokinowasuremono.com)

Eikoh Hosoe ukiyo-e art

Shunga projection (tokinowasuremono.com)

Eikoh Hosoe ukiyo-e shunga

Shunga projection (tokinowasuremono.com)

The Career

From the 1970s until now, Hosoe has been holding a number of significant posts. He is director emeritus of Kamaitachi Museum of Art, vice-president of the Japanese Photographers’ Association, lecturer, and professor. He is still being awarded both Eastern and Western orders for his immense contribution to art.

Eikoh Hosoe kamaitachi

Kamaitachi, 1965 (tokinowasuremono.com)

kamaitachi photograph

Kamaitachi, 1965 (tokinowasuremono.com)

Eikoh Hosoe sunflower

Sunflower Song, Snowmass, Colorado” from “Luna Rossa” (tokinowasuremono.com)

Eikoh Hosoe luna rossa

Witnesses of the End of the 20th Century, Anchorage, Alaska” from “Luna Rossa” (tokinowasuremono.com)

Eikoh Hosoe legs

Man and Woman” (fotoinfos.blogspot.com)

Eikoh Hosoe man and woman series

Man and Woman” (blogspot.com)

Eikoh Hosoe grabbing hand

Embrace” (laspalabrastienenalas.files.wordpress.com)

nude photography

Embrace” (billybonzo.blogspot.com)

Eikoh Hosoe nude with owl

Female nude portrait with owl, ca. 1970 (verocskadotde.wordpress.com)

Eikoh Hosoe embrace series

Embrace” (poetasnuevos.files.wordpress.com)

multiple nude bodies

Embrace” (poetasnuevos.files.wordpress.com)

Eikoh Hosoe japanese photographer

Embrace” (poetasnuevos.files.wordpress.com)

Eikoh Hosoe Japan photographer

Fish’, 1964 (blogspot.com)

Eikoh Hosoe ordeal by roses series

Ordeal by roses”. Mishima as Saint Sebastian (tumblr.com)

Sources: Wikipedia.org, NSW Art Gallery “Eikoh Hosoe. Theatre of Memory” (exhibition booklet, 2011), Corpos de Imagens. Eikoh Hosoe (Sesc Consolação exhibition program, 2014), tokinowasuremono.com.

Click HERE for the flirtatious nudes of Helmut Newton…!!

Let us know what you think about this article Eikoh Hosoe in the comment box below…..!!

About the author
Darya is a philologist who lives and works in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. She is specialized in Russian literature.
Olivier
By

Olivier

on 28 December 2020

Great article, great photo selection! thanks Darya! Thanks Shungagallery, my favorite internet page!

Darya
By

Darya

on 28 December 2020

Thanks, Olivier! We're glad you like this article. Hosoe is a great artist indeed, so his works are worth watching.

Senju Shunga
By

Senju Shunga

on 29 December 2020

Yet another amazing photographer!

Marijn
By

Marijn

on 29 December 2020

Thanks Senju!

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