Exhibition: Yoshihiko Ueda

The main danger a commercial photographer faces is the aura of banality that photographing consumer goods inevitably gives. To counter this and keep one's corporate portfolio hot, a photographer is advised to pursue a parallel artistic career with a bit of edge. As a hired lens for Suntory's oolong tea and Shiseido's toiletries, Ueda has managed to do this with several exhibitions and books that focus on those photographic perennials – botany and nudity.

While his pictures of forests and foliage are esteemed for their soft, delicate light, his nudes are interesting at a more conceptual level for the way they expose the unholy alliance of art and porn that has always been present in nude photography. This exhibition presents seven full-frontal, life-sized nudes with several smaller sets. While earlier nudes were encouraged to affect derivative poses as if to say "We're not porn – we're art," Ueda's recent work has stripped nude photography of all artifice, in a sense purifying the act to its essentials – a middle-aged male photographer snapping naked young women. The women assume neutral poses against a neutral background. The lack of artistic intent is as obvious as the lack of pornographic intent, and creates strangely unnerving images.

Yoshihiko Ueda "Standing Full Nude Series" at Galerie Sho Contemporary Art, until the 15th of April
Japan Times
16th March, 2006
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