“A single photograph is a mere fragment of an experience and, simultaneously, the distillation of the entire body of one’s experience.” —Shomei Tomatsu
Tomorrow night in Cologne, Germany the Galerie Priska Pasquer will host a vernissage for the great Japanese photographer, Shomei Tomatsu. While still not widely known in the States, Tomatsu is, without question, one of Japan’s most important photographers.
Born in 1930, Tomatsu came of age in the devastating aftermath of post-WWII Japan. A quiet, reserved and self-taught photographer, he would first go on to document the atomic devastation in Nagasaki as he discusses in this brief video. Later, however, his work would follow the changing dynamism of Japanese culture and society as it emerged from the war and into the bright lights of capitalism and consumerism.
We can thank the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for first bringing Shomei Tomatsu to the attention of a broader American audience. Their groundbreaking retrospective, “Skin of the Nation” in 2006, helped us to understand the importance of Tomatsu’s work. And today, Aperture magazine’s latest fall issue #208 displays a Tomatsu image on the cover and a feature on his work in Okinawa.
I invite you to explore Shomei Tomatsu’s legacy and to discover for yourself, why the sensitivity, power and grace of his images have influenced Japanese photography for generations. —Lane Nevares