Abe sensei is a longtime instructor at the School of Visual Arts, Osaka (a former student of his, Shinya Arimoto, teaches at the Tokyo branch) and for one reason or another rarely exhibits his work outside his hometown. The owner of Niepce texted me to say that Abe would be in the gallery this weekend and having written about his books Citizens, Kokubyaku Note, and more recently Manila, I was looking forward to finally meeting the photographer in person for the first time.
While en route to the exhibition I ran into Shinya Arimoto- he was headed the same way so we walked together to the show. Abe sensei was friendly, yet soft-spoken, fairly reserved, and rather humble. His unassuming demeanor no doubt allows him to shoot the way he does on the streets. He didn’t go out of his way to offer his own thoughts or opinions on the work, but was fine with talking about the background story to images. Since his pictures often hinge on a bewildering sense of timing or situation these details helped put the images into a broader context, they never overpowered the ability of the pictures to continue to surprise or impress the viewer.
We were able to chat for a little bit and on the topic of gear he told me he uses a Nikon FE with a 28 or 35mm lens and shoots Tri-X which he develops in D-76 (1:1). Similar to Michio Yamauchi, his choice of materials is situated at the most elementary level of black and white photographic practice. This means that with the “how” long out of the way, he’s been able to focus on the “what” of his photographic output.
With his permission I am able to share some photos from the show here.
The exhibition is comprised of two parts- a majority of the work was 11×14 fiber prints from Citizens:
Additionally there were many excellent images from this series that did not appear in the book:
The second part of the show was simply titled 1982. To my understanding the two rows of RC prints making up this series have not been exhibited before, much less published. There were some fantastic images here, too.
If you’re unable to make it to the gallery by August 19th but would still like to see more of Jun Abe’s work you can purchase his books from Japan Exposures.