Nobuyoshi Araki - Tattooed fuck (from the series: Tokyo Comedy) - image-1

Lot 647 D

Nobuyoshi Araki - Tattooed fuck (from the series: Tokyo Comedy)

Auction 1135 - overview Cologne
01.06.2019, 14:00 - Contemporary Art
Estimate: 20.000 € - 30.000 €
Result: 19.344 € (incl. premium)

Nobuyoshi Araki

Tattooed fuck (from the series: Tokyo Comedy)

Gelatin silver print. 46 x 57.6 cm (50.7 x 60.5 cm). Matted and framed. Signed in pencil on the verso.

The stage-like produced shot of a couple during intercourse occupies a particular position in Araki's work. Not only the absence of any accessories which place the scenery in a spatial or narrative context, as is usual for Araki, but also the presence of a male actor which presets something extraordinary in Araki's pictorial cosmos. It is striking that this man, who, like a demon, leans over the body of a woman sunk to the floor in ecstasy, is distinguishable by an impressive full body tattoo. This form of body ornament was reserved in Japan for decades for members of the Yakuza, that notorious criminal organisation with a mafia-like clan structure, and is still today considered offensive in public life. That man's tattoos form the centre of the shot, a "picture within a picture" as it were. It shows the well-known motif of the legendary warrior monk Benkei as young Oniwakamaru, fighting the giant carp after a woodcut by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861) at the end of the Edo period. This motif has a long tradition in the Japanese tattoo art irezumi. Full body tattoos of this scene were already found in the 19th century. In addition, the tattoo here is of particularly good quality, executed by the famous tattoo artist Horitoku, one of the leading masters of the traditional art of Japanese tattoos and who immortalised himself with his signature on the man's back.
"Araki's work is an incantation of ecstasy and death, desire and transience, a thematic combination that we know from the tradition of Japanese films and literature. In addition, Araki combines in his picture sequences phases of the grotesque with periods of meditation - two constants of Japanese visual art. […] In connection with Araki's depictions of the sexual, two topics are discussed again and again, on the one hand the general topic of the pornographic […] and the sadomasachistic representations which seem strange to the European eye. With these depictions, Arakai reacts to a continuous theme of his own culture, that of comics. The second look at the strangulation and subjugation fantasies reveals to us that Araki plays an ironic game that includes the winking consent of the actors who are part of the comedy the artist is staging. This also applies to the deadly serious "pornography" with its usually phallically orientated fantasies of potency and copulation which Araki contrasts with a pictorial world more strongly influenced by women's bodily experiences and exhibitionism. [.] Araki's paradise, its oral orgies and harem fantasies [...] carry the germ of death within it, which encounter in the abandoned street canyons of Tokyo, the skyscapes and city cutouts filled with Araki's irrepressible laughter" (Peter Weiermeier, in: Jean-Christophe Ammann (ed.), Nobuyoshi Araki. Shikijyo. Sexual desire, Kilchberg, 1996, p. 11f.).
That Araki himself associates this shot with an association of death, a vanitas depiction, so to say, is demonstrated by the fact that he places the motif together with a variant - showing the two actors in a death-like position lying on the ground - in the catalogue "Self, Life, Death" at the very end under the heading "River between life and death".


From the photographer to the present owner


Nobuyoshi Araki, Araki by Araki. The Photographer’s Personal Selection, 1963-2002, Tokyo i.a. 2003, ill. p. 356; Akiko Miki (ed.), Nobuyoshi Araki, Self. Life. Death, London 2011, ill. p. 650; Nobuyoshi Araki, Araky by Araki, Cologne i.a. 2014, ill. p. 251