Press Release

Photographs by Chris Steele-Perkins

Dazzling and idiosyncratic photographs of contemporary Japan, celebrating extremes of beauty, the handprint of techno-culture, and the irony of documentary, by the noted British photographer Chris Steele-Perkins.

The impetus for this three-year project began when Steele-Perkins was offered a gift from his Japanese wife of the nineteenth-century master printmaker Katsushika Hokusaiís famous book, Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji. Struck by the verisimilitude of the prints as historical documents of the life of the peoples around the mountain: woodcutters, fishermen, peasants, aristocrats, as well as their beauty and spiritual aspect, Steele Perkins began to research further. He found that most Japanese photographers preferred classic images of the sacred mountain where the elegiac perfection of the peak was the punctum of the work, in opposition to the approach of Hokusai. Steele-Perkins then set out to record a twenty-first century response through the eyes of a sympathetic gaijin. The ensuing work depicts Fuji as a cultural nexus: a dynamic social phenomenon where tourism, farming, industry, religion, urbanization, locomotion, housing and recreation, traditional ceremony and religion all are framed by the potent national symbol of the mountain.

Fuji as seen by Steele-Perkins emerges as a meditation about modern Japan, and Japanese life. The exquisite images offer a fresh and surprising view of Japanís iconic mountain, and an understanding into Japanese worldview as seen by an outsider who has penetrated its diversity with astonishing clarity, metaphysical insight, and profound complicity.

Fuji, an exhibition of Epson semi-gloss digital prints, will tour in the UK, Japan, and the US with venues including the The Midlands Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK and the Grandship Museum, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan.


CHRIS STEELE-PERKINS is an award-winning photographer based in London and Tokyo, and a member of the famed cooperative Magnum Photos, founded by Henri Cartier Bresson and Robert Capa. Born British in 1947 in occupied Burma, he moved from Rangoon to London in 1949 and graduated with honors from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1970. He started working as a freelance photographer immediately, and his first book, The Teds, was published in 1979 by Traveling Light, the same year Steele-Perkins became a member of Magnum. He subsequently published a range of publications. His reportages have received the highest awards in photojournalism, including the Tom Hopkinson Prize for British Photojournalism (1988), the Oscar Barnack Prize (1988) from the World Press Association, and the Robert Capa Gold Medal (1989) from ICP, the Cooperative Society and One World Awards for the film Dying for Publicity (1994), and a 2000 World Press Award.

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