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Japan’s Best New Photographers Are in Their 70s

A group exhibition at Onishi Project highlights photographers enlivening the medium in their golden years.
COOL JAPAN I, Koizumi Sumio. Images courtesy the gallery and the artists

Drawing on Japan's rich history as a bastion of photography, an exhibition called Recent Photography highlights four photographers from the homeland of Canon, Nikon, and Fuji. Each of the photographers on display at Chelsea’s Onishi Project, joined the tradition of legends Daido Moriyama, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Noboyushi Araki after the year 2000. The catch? The average age of the artists on display is a cool 75 years old.


Sumio Kuzomi, Yoshiko Ehara, Michio Kumagai, and Motoo Saito had separate and unrelated careers for years, discovering photography as a second occupation in the last decade-and-a-half. Their work is surprisingly untraditional, with no “straight-on” photography to be found, and feels more contemporary and of-the-moment than you would expect from photographers of a certain age. Photoshop, digital collaging techniques, and highly conceptual motivations form the backbone of the work on display.

Recent Photography Installation View

“Artists who have changed their career late in life have seen so many exhibitions and have so much knowledge of art that they have a better grasp of what art is good,” Onishi Project founder Nana Onishi tells The Creators Project. “They also have already found out who they are and what they want to express through their art—they are ahead of young people in terms of ‘life’.”

Despite their late arrival to the medium, the photographers display a surprisingly youthful eagerness regarding their newfound passions. “[The photographers] are about 70 years old, but they told us that they are still learning and are ready for the next 20 years of their artistic careers!” Onishi adds.

FREEDOM I, Kumagai Michio

Portrait of Artist Saito Motoo

LOVE I, Ehara Yoshiko

Learn more about Recent Photography on the Onishi Project website.


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