The must-see exhibition of the moment is hosted by the little-known Maison de la Culture du Japon in Paris, located opposite the Eiffel Tower. The exceptional retrospective "Ken Domon - Master of Japanese Realism" showcases the journey of Japan's most famous photographer, from the 1930s to the 1980s, at the heart of Japanese history.
Master of Japanese Realism
The exhibition begins with a portrait of the photographer, setting the tone: with a serious yet mischievous smile, the artist looks at us and invites us to follow him in his work. And it's not a bad idea to have him as our guide, as his photos can be difficult for Western eyes to understand. It must be said that Ken Domon's photos are intimately linked to Japan's history during World War II, often presenting stories linked to the traumas that the country still carries. This is why the artist, despite being a star in Japan, is only presented here for the first time in France, after only one exhibition in Rome (2016), marking the beginning of his international recognition, thirty years after his death.
The Maison de la Culture du Japon in Paris presents the different creations of the photographer, through his realistic photographs on the daily life of the Japanese, often featuring children, a recurring theme of the artist. We discover with wonder the multiple facets of Ken Domon, who was alternately a propaganda photographer, war photographer, portraitist, and even landscape photographer. Impressive!
An exotic exhibition
In an intimate scenography in red, white and black, the exhibition transports us to the heart of Japanese culture and teaches us a thousand and one things about the country. We discover urban shots in the streets of Sendai or Kyoto, featuring the passers-by of these cities, often witnesses to the poverty of the time, but also propaganda images where Ken Domon exalts the power of Japanese soldiers and the vigor of Red Cross nurses. But Ken Domon is above all a photographer of the intimate: he is the first to take an interest in the survivors of the Hiroshima bombings and in 1957, 12 years after the event, he produced a photo report on the consequences of the attack...
In the 1960s, he returned to a spiritual aesthetic influenced by Buddhism, producing hundreds of shots of temples and landscapes of Japan. Some of these photos are gathered in the exhibition in a glowing red room (a nod to the Japanese flag) and appear as a moment of peace after the difficulties of war.
This exhibition couldn't find a better spot than the Maison de la Culture du Japon in Paris, a real nursery for Japanese culture. In addition to exhibitions on several floors, this ultra-modern place also has a kawaii shop and a Japanese café to try out, not to mention lots of activities, such as Japanese dance and music shows, conferences, tastings, and even paid introductory classes in Go, dance, or Japanese calligraphy. Don't hesitate!
Ken Domon - Master of Japanese Realism, from April 26 to July 13, 2023. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 am to 7 pm. Free admission.
Also discover Françoise Petrovitch's superb exhibition at the Musée de la Vie romantique and hairy and funny : the must-see exhibition at the Musée des Arts décoratifs.