Masahisa Fukase was born in the Nakagawa District, Hokkaido, Japan in 1934. He is renowned for his obsessive, intense and deeply introspective photographs with which he attempted to describe his passionate and sometimes violent life. Perhaps the most widely recognised of his projects is the series titled The Solitude of Ravens, which he created over a period of five years following the breakdown of his second marriage. Stark and monochrome, the ravens become a symbol of lost love and unendurable heartbreak, and are deeply autobiographical, with Fukase himself as the real subtext.
The remarkable set of prints on display here Bukubuku (Bubbling) are the last series Fukase completed and exhibited before the debilitating fall which left him in a coma for 20 years and later cost him his life. The series is made up of 79 self-portraits made in the bathtub with a waterproof camera and was last shown at “Shikei (Private View) ‘92’” (February 1992), with the prints pinned to the wall in an installation minded trilogy along with Berobero (Sucking) and Hibi (Fractures). Regarded as Fukase’s last great work, Bukubuku has been described as ‘a whimsical if somewhat morbid game of solitaire that charts new territory for the photographic self-portrait,’ a visualisation of madness and death.
The 30 Bukubuku prints being shown at Paris Photo are a selection from the complete and only set of 79 vintage works that were acquired directly from the artist’s estate. The full set will be exhibited for the first time since “Shikei (Private View) ‘92’” in the Tate Modern show Performing for the Camera in February 2016.
Masahisa Fukase’s work has been exhibited widely at institutions such as MoMA, New York, Oxford Museum of Modern Art, UK, Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. His work is held in major collections including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, SFMoMA, USA, The Metropolitan Museum, of Art, New York, and The Getty Museum, Los Angeles. He is also the winner of prizes such as the 2nd Ina Nobuo Award in 1976 for his exhibition “Karasu” as well as the Special Award at the 8th Higashikawa Photography Awards in 1992.