Opening 22 February 2018, 6 pm
Among contemporary artists, nobody like Nobuyoshi Araki (Tokyo 1940) has investigated the movements and depths of Eros: Eros as sexuality, attraction, charm; Eros as a struggle, a search and a joyful conjunction; Eros as desire, a happy and disturbing obsession produced by an absence, a separation and a wound. In one of his most beautiful myths, Plato says that originally the male and the female were a one and only person, united in a perfect form: the androgynous. Fearing his pride and his attack, Zeus punished him by cutting it in two equal parts (Symposium, 189 a -192 a): since then the male and the female existed. The positive and the negative, the two opposite and complementary sexes, who spend a lifetime trying to find and restore their lost original unity. This archaic, profound laceration is the central theme of Araki’s photographs: the sexuality produced by a guilt (the pride of the androgyny), the sexuality as an endless search for the perfect original unity, the Eros as an uninterrupted oscillation between deprivation and wealth, lack and completion.
A man looks and contemplates the infinite charm of the woman, amazed by her magical attraction: her enormous energy, her great strength sometimes hard to hold, her heart pulsing of life. Thus, Eros turns into a primitive hunter, and the female into a prey. In the photos of Araki, sexuality is experienced and witnessed above all as something extreme, hard and violent: the prey is captured, subjugated and humiliated, tied and hung like a hunting trophy. Preserving the different from oneself, our missing part, in wild, rough and primitive ways. In this sense, Araki’s eye, erasing all the poetic dimension of courtship, investigates love only and exclusively in its instinctive, raw, organic and animal aspect.
The obsession of coitus dominates Araki who acts as a new satyr. The woman becomes just an object to him. She is reduced to an ornament around her genital organ: the wound, the scar, symbol of a present and lost heaven. The sexual paradise represented by the flower stands out in his photographs as the classic metaphor: a naturalistic reality, a symbol, a presence and a fragrant image.
Behind Eros, behind life, always hides the death: we feel the great presence of Thanatos. The cessation of everything: the total, tragic disappearance. Faced with the extreme enigma of cancellation, of the disappearance, of the absolute annihilation, the vital force of sexuality, of reproducing, thus acquires an even greater importance: as continuity, preservation, as the extreme necessity of Being.