On the digital gallery of the mysterious A. – or @gyoza_and_sake on Instagram – is a dark and disturbing collection of images. Swaying between the anonymity of the street and the intimacy of a hotel room, the photographer flirts with the borders of the obscene and reveals, with passion, a set of monochrome images.
“I want to show something raw and real,” says the mysterious Japan-based photographer A., who hides behind the username @gyoza_and_sake on Instagram. Initially reluctant towards photography, he turned to the medium during a long-awaited trip to the Land of the Rising Sun. “During my first visit to Kyoto, I had the feeling that it might be my last visit to Japan. So I decided to capture my daily life and the things I found striking,” he says. With a “super shitty compact camera” in his pocket, as he puts it – bought for barely 30 euros – he frantically shot everything that passed before his eyes. And 6 years later, A. still lives in Japan, and still hasn’t taken his eye off the viewfinder. With an aggressive and constant approach, he builds up a unique and ever-growing body of images – a real dive into the intimate and turbulent tempo of the photographer. Chaos and flashes of light, graphic street scenes and flamboyant portraits parade before his lens, shattering the codes of prudishness and pushing the artist into anonymity.
“I started photographing in colour and I remember thinking, ‘Why do people photograph in black and white? They lose so much vitality’. Then I tried monochrome, and I’ve never looked back,” he recalls. With exhilarating contrasts and impetuous flashes, he tears his subjects away from reality and projects them out of time into a world where vice is synonymous with love. “I like the distortion that comes with grain – the emphasis on textures, patterns and the dizziness caused by empty spaces. It’s a way of distancing myself from reality, or at least from my subjects,” he says. Far from looking for inspiration in the history of photography, the artist draws from the world of manga and comics: Hellboy, Sin City, BLAME, Lone Wolf and Cub, to name but a few. “The texture of the paper, the exaggerated contrast and the tactile dimension of the pages are clearly involved in my work,” the artist explains.
In the shadows
Whether against the almost cruel concrete of the street, or the remarkable softness of a hotel room, A. oscillates between two worlds and weaves links between intimate and public spaces – between obscenity and chastity. In the metro, under a bus shelter, in a market… Wandering through the city, the artist confronts the carelessness of anonymous passers-by. Then, with a certain voyeurism, he hides in the shadows, and lets his models uninhibitedly flirt with his lens. “The raw and the delicate parts of my images are in fact two sides of the same coin. They reveal the paradoxes of my personality: my introverted side and my more aggressive one,” says the photographer. Because above all, the medium allows @gyoza_and_sake to get out of his bubble and overcome his shyness. “It’s a tool that allows me to understand life in general. Like when an actor performs: he reveals himself. The stage gives him the opportunity to do things he wouldn’t normally do. It’s the same for me when I have my camera in hand,” he explains.
And following the shot, comes a second, slower phase in which A. recomposes his shots. In doing so, he ensures a coherent whole and imposes his style. “My creations are largely based on my aesthetic concerns, the artist continues. I spend a lot of time looking at my images, confronting them with each other and thinking about the sensations they give me, so that I can find the best way to put them together”. The result is uncompromising compositions of unparalleled darkness and provocation – reminiscent of the Japanese Provoke movement and its figurehead: the great Daido Moriyama. Educated to the rhythms of bands like Dead Can Dance, Noir Désir and Nick Cave, or the films of David Lynch and David Cronemberg, A. fully embraces the dark dimension of his images and even makes it his signature. “I have often been told that my pictures are dark and convey a sense of loneliness… And I totally agree with both of these points”, he admits. With rigour and dexterity, the artist cultivates an aesthetic bordering on the obscene, where a disturbing sensitivity for the body and the hazards of daily life in Japan comes out.
© A. @gyoza_and_sake