“Perhaps the reason why Balthus dared to paint the limbs of a young girl was that he was attempting to provoke narrow-minded 20th century notions of eroticism. And so in this photographic series the dual presence of innocence and eroticism points to the objectification of 20th century values, which is itself an important part of the work.” — Hisaji Hara
The Japanese photographer Hisaji Hara’s photographs are reminders of the past with a modern interpretation. By using Balthus’s paintings as inspiration and avoiding any use of digital manipulation, he meticulously constructs his images in camera. Multiple exposures, smoke machines, cinematic lighting, a vintage interior—all work to create a painterly atmosphere. These photographs, with their reinterpretations of Balthus’s paintings, challenge us to rethink the relationship between subject and viewer, including our notions of innocence and propriety.
The first European solo show of Hisaji Hara’s work ends this month at the Michael Hoppen Gallery in London. And for a thoughtful exploration of the exhibit, check out Sean O’Hagan’s review in the Guardian. —Lane Nevares