Looking at the photographs of Mika Ninagawa, our eyes are first overwhelmed by the gaudy, vibrant colors. The subjects include flowers, people, and goldfish, and their brilliant colors – intense reds, exhilarating blues, and voluptuous pinks – arouse deep emotions and take us into a world that seems strangely unreal. The colors are permeated with light, and Ninagawa has continually experimented with light and color in order to grasp the richness and beauty of life. Light casts shadows, areas of darkness that quietly emerge behind and around it. These shadows, which might be characterized as decadent or poisonous, are found scattered here and there throughout Ninagawa’s huge corpus of images. Light and shadow are interconnected aspects of reality, and the presence of these elements reveals Ninagawa’s basic attitude toward photography. An overall view of her artistic achievement was presented through a carefully selected group of photographs in “Mika Ninagawa: Earthly Flowers, Heavenly Colors,” held at five museums in Japan from 2008 to 2010.
The noir series, Ninagawa’s latest group of photographs, has been shown as part of a number of solo exhibitions with the subtitle, “Earthly Flowers, Heavenly Colors.” The noir (darkness, blackness) created by this artist known for her flamboyant colors is a brilliantly colored darkness, a deepening and darkening of color. She reveals the glittering realm of life alongside the yawning abyss of death. The world of these photographs is a warped and distorted world, produced by a human hand intervening in the balance between life and death. The territory of this world is expanded and deepened, shifted toward the extreme poles of life and death, allowing viewers to experience an overwhelming, even violent, life force and a deep, distorted, garishly colored darkness.
This exhibition is the first to present works from the noir series alone. This is a new series, and the photographs contained in it, including previous work, have been created at a slow and careful pace. It shows a different aspect of the previous Mika Ninagawa, a more fundamental aspect, and we hope that many visitors will be able to see it. This series is featured in a new book of photographs entitled noir (Kawaide Shobo Shinsha, published October 22, 2010, \2,730 including tax, 164 pages). The following sentence is taken from the postscript written by Ninagawa. It is also printed on the paper band on the outside of the book.
Flowers bloom in the midst of dying Pet animals remain in their cages again today. New life is born with reckless abandon
Continuing to live towards death, day by day. It is almost dazzling
We highly recommend this wonderful book.