Saturday, March 8, 2008

Katsumi Watanabe exhibition

Made men, made-up men, drunken men and fallen men (and women) are among the characters Watanabe took photographs of in a career that spanned 40 years. This retrospective at the Watari-Um Museum of Contemporary Art in Jingumae is on from now till April 20. The photographer was interested in taking pictures of the cast of dubious characters who populated the streets of the entertainment districts in some of the dodgier areas of Tokyo, capturing the melting make-up, frayed carpets and piss-stained streets in all their gaudy glory. I loved the gawkishness with which some of the subjects posed, slightly awkward, caught out by the camera's flash. There is a touching mix of humour and tragedy in these pictures, which are hugely sympathetic towards its subjects.

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