Exhibition as Self-Portrait: Deutsche Bank Sponsors
Mika Ninagawa Show at the Hara Museum

Bright red, deep blue, garish pink – the intense colors of Mika Ninagawa’s photographs make them unmistakable. Since the 1990s, they have become the trademark of the Japanese artist. So-called “Ninagawa colors” also characterize her music videos and feature films. Now the Hara Museum in Tokyo is devoting a large show to Ninagawa, sponsored by Deutsche Bank. The bank has had a long partnership with the museum, one of the most renowned contemporary art venues in Japan. The Hara showed Tokyo Blossoms, Deutsche Bank Collection’s anniversary exhibition, in 2006.

Mika Ninagawa made a name for herself with her photos of flowers, goldfish, pop princesses, and models. At first glance, it seems as though the artist (born 1972) is celebrating the immaculate surfaces of consumer and mass culture. But the exhibition entitled Self-image at the Hara Museum conveys a very different, deeper picture of her work. A focus of the show is the series noir, which Ninagawa has continually expanded since 2010. The photographer views noir as an expression of her “unvarnished self,” which seems pretty cryptic. The photographs of anatomical puppets and animals that could be living or dead revolved around ephemerality and the evanescence of existence. Her impressions of cherry blossoms, captured in just three hours on the shore of the Meguro River in Tokyo, are also linked to this theme. Countless tender petals fall to the ground or are carried away by the river. The last chapter of the show focuses on “real” self-portraits – spontaneous shots that usually make do without the garish “Ninagawa colors” and show the artist in all her vulnerability. The pictures in the exhibition together present a “self-image” described by Ninagawa as being “close to her raw and unguarded self.”

Mika Ninagawa: Self-image
1/24/2015 – 5/10/2015
Hara Museum, Tokyo