Moriyama is a Japanese photographer born in 1938 in Ikeda, Osaka. This exhibition at the Fondation Cartier is his second at the fondation. The first was twelve years ago. The first exhibition featured his B&W images of urban life in and around Toyko. He has focused on the areas of Japan which have been left behind in its rapid industrial development.
In the 1970s Moriyama began to experiment with colour photography but he converted these colour images to B&W before exhibiting them. However some of the images he thought looked better in colour and this recent exhibition consists of 86 coloured images in either portrait or landscape 111.5 x 149cm format.
The Fondation Cartier, designed by Jean Nouvel and built in 1984, is a center for contemporary art. Three of the four walls are glass so the building is flooded with light. On the obscure wall there is a room which is separated from the main exhibition hall where film and slide shows can be shown.
In the main exhibition hall Moryiama’s images benefit from this explosion of light. Although the images show some fairly derelict areas of Shinjuku life, there is no sense of sadness or squalor. Rather the impression is one of fun and quirkiness. There are images of torn posters, parts of or whole people, found objects and pipework. Although I did feel the pipework worked better in black and white. The overall impression is of the accessibility of Moriyama’s art. It makes one want to rush out and create something similar.
In the projection room there is a series of black and white images which are a lot more somber. They depict unexplored areas of many cities that Moriyama has visited between July 2014 and March 2015. The slide show is presented in a very novel way. There are five screens. the images are projected on the two screens right and left of the main screen. The projection begins on the left and the images follow one another from left to right. The viewer is continually engaged in moving the head to follow the sequence. We are not told which images are of which city. There is a similarity in the sequence which could probably be captioned as “poverty with all its different faces” I found the experience of watching these images captivating as did, I believe, all those who were present. No one moved until they reached the point at which they had come in and it was a fairly lengthy projection since it contained images over a nine month period and at least one image from most days. The title of the projection is Dog and Mesh Tights which says everything about Moriyama.