Rosier Gallery is pleased to present the 64 color photographs in Yoichi Nagata’s “Star of the Stars” from February 16, 2017 – May 9, 2017. The artist created the series from over 600 portraits he captured of fantastically costumed Tokyo club-goers between 2005 – 2013. Yoichi Nagata self-published, under his SkyEarth label, the monograph, “Star of the Stars”, as a limited edition in 2014. This exhibition marks the first time Rosier Gallery has shown the artist's work.
Yoichi Nagata’s “Star of the Stars” references and builds upon the long tradition of fine art portrait photography. With the artist’s focus on these outrageously attired club-goers asserting a hyperbolically unique individuality within an often conformist Japanese culture, we feel the inspiration of Diane Arbus’s outreach to outside communities including circus performers, nudists and the mentally ill. Unlike Diane Arbus or an artist like Philip-Lorca diCorcia who deploys the settings surrounding the subject to add context, Yoichi Nagata utilizes the Thomas Ruff approach of removing any background to solely focus on the portrait subject. But while Ruff’s often neutral background tones augment the banality he seeks, Yoichi Nagata’s bottomless black backgrounds serve to further augment the subject’s often vividly colored or stark white attire.
The artist has significantly digitally manipulated the portraits within “Star of the Stars”. While facial features are typically clear and not digitally retouched, emphasizing the essential reality of the individual, the elaborate costumes are often blurred, even moving toward abstraction, with an enhanced luminescence to the colors. The resulting effect, feeling at once both dream induced and ghostly, augments the duality of these works both illuminating the subject’s desire to escape our current reality while also harking back to their historical references.
Flamboyant dress and hairstyles were originally a defining characteristic of Kabukimono, Japanese ronin or wandering samurai in the late 16th century. Rebels, like the ancient Kabukimono and their modern-day incarnations, often appear during times of social turmoil or transitions from one era to the next. Are we undergoing a similar transition now? If so, Asian culture considers bright clothing and adornments as being able to call down luck from the spirits. As Yoichi Nagata asks, “could these modern day kabukimono be like the shamans of ancient times, channeling the gods and spirits during a time when people may increasingly feel alienated?” Yoichi Nagata’s “Star of the Stars” images, during these increasingly uncertain times, capture everyone’s dreams for a better tomorrow and just perhaps bring a little good fortune along to all of us.
Yoichi Nagata began his career by studying at the acclaimed artist Eikoh Hosoe’s photography school. His work has previously appeared in five solo exhibits in Japan and the USA, over ten group exhibits in Japan, Germany, the USA, Poland and the Netherlands and received numerous awards from around the globe including twice winning The Prix de la Photographie Paris prizes and twice winning The Center for Fine Art Photography awards. The artist co-founded and serves as Editor in Chief of Faction Magazine Japan. Yoichi Nagata was born in Tokyo, Japan and currently lives and works in Yokohama, Japan.