Yoshie Nishikawa and the Aesthetic of Beauty
Yoshie Nishikawa, Japanese photographer born in Sapporo, after graduating at the University of Arts of Ootani, moved to San Francisco to get a master at the Academy of Art College in “The Fine Art of Photography”. Her photographic career started there, initially studying and frequenting masters, and then as freelance photographer in Tokyo, New York, London and Milan. In the Nineties, she decided to move to Milan, in Italy, although she kept collaborating with publishing companies and photographic agencies in Tokyo. In Italy, she found her creative humus and, next to her job in advertising, fashion, and still-life, she began her personal aesthetic research, developing a very peculiar dialog between herself and the subject to shoot.
2009 was a very important year for Yoshie Nishikawa because she took photos of all findings of the Egyptian Museum of Turin for one of the most important Japanese newspapers, the “Asahi Shimbun”. The same photos were used for the Catalog of the Exhibition “Ancient Egypt in Turin”. In the same year she was awarded the “Premio della Qualità Creativa in Fotografia Professionale” and the Award in the “Fashion” category, promoted by the National Association of Professional Photographers Tau Visual. In 2010, she won an award also in the “Glamour” category.
At present, she distributes her professional and artistic activity between Milan, London, Paris and Tokyo.
B: Yoshie, you belong to that group of artist women that grew in Japan around the mid-eighties. A period that saw the Rising Sun at the top of its economic power and in full artistic development. Nevertheless, you decided to leave Japan and move to Italy. From an artistic point of view, what were you missing to express your creative process?
Y: The time of man compared to the time of technology. In Japan everything was fast, with so much news and novelties and so little time to assimilate. In Italy, time was still as it was once. The creative process needs time to feel beauty. In Japan, there was too much hurry to follow all sorts of fashion, but there was no time to savor the details or choose according to one’s taste instead than to those imposed by the various opinion leaders.
B: How do you combine in your work, your eastern cultural background Orientale with the western culture? Apparently they are very far from each other and have a totally different approach to the image.
Y: The lights and shadows of the West are captured by my eyes and light up my deep Self that obviously is oriental. What is outside is West, what is inside is East.
B: I read a statement of yours that really struck me and that I would really like you to explain. I repeat it word for word: “The keys of photography and of the photographer are dialog and contact with the subject one wants to photograph. It makes no difference whether it is a person or an object. The photographic image is the reflection of my soul.”
Y: As a photographer, when I take a shot I feel the energy of the subject I am portraying. Every being, living or not, has an essence, a soul. I believe it is important to catch this aspect and make it come out in my works.
B: You always stress the importance of the dialog that takes place during your creative action; indeed, in another statement, you said: “When the object/subject responds to the contact I naturally try to establish with him/her (it), then the dialog is confirmed and the picture comes out nice; but the picture is beautiful when the exchange between dialog and contact is not linear, but circular.”
B: What does a circular contact mean? And is there a specific moment when this is created or does it grow progressively? Did it ever happen to you to fail in establishing a relation with the subject of your shoot?
Y: As a Japanese, the notion of energy and energy flow is very present in my way to feel the world around me. This circular flow is the exchange of energy between everything. Obviously, it is invisible, but it can be perceived. When I take pictures, there is a continuous exchange that progressively leads to results at times surprising in what I succeed in catching and transmitting. Yes, it did happen to me to fail in establishing this exchange. If that happens, I stop shooting and I resume later, or I start all over again immediately. Until I feel that I’m able to communicate.
B: What value do you give to beauty and time?
Y: They are fundamental. One doesn’t exist without the other
B: In your Nude pictures, the aesthetic search for a timeless and unapproachable, far, perfect beauty is very clear. An alluring femininity, impudent at times, but silent. Unflappable women exhibit their naked bodies oblivious of their surroundings. Caught by the fleeting click of the camera, they seem, in that short instant, to become almost real, tangible. But it’s just a moment of sensual surrender to pleasure. Your sets are smart and studied to the last detail: composition, poses, light exposure. Don’t you risk losing the spontaneity and expressiveness of the moment?
Y: I must go back to the notion of energy flow. If there was no energy flow, there would be no spontaneity and expressiveness, but when you establish the energy exchange, everything -lights, poses, colors, take a unique value and the photo is magic.
B: There is one of your works, that you feel very close to you and that you called “Twins”, which is very different from “Petali d’Oriente”. Can you tell us how you conceived this project?
Y: While with "Petali d'Oriente" my purpose was to give a vision of pure eroticism, free from the vulgarity of many pictures taken by Japanese photographers, with "Twins" I wanted to represent the pure and deep beauty of woman, not only aesthetic but also and especially in its essence.
B: And now the last and customary question: are you working on some new project related to Nude photography?
Y: Currently, I am thinking about a new project for which I am looking for the right model, but I’d rather stop here. It will be a nice surprise.
B: Yoshie, thank you very much for your time.
Y: Thank you.
 “Petali d’Oriente”, a series of nude pictures shot on film and digitally printed, presented at the Fondazione Matalon in Milan (May 2014), during the solo exhibition “Purificazione”.
B.O. ©Floz Visions 2015