Eikoh Hosoe, 'Portrait of Yukio Mishima'

Eikoh Hosoe, 'Portrait of Yukio Mishima'

Eikoh Hosoe (born 1933)
'Portrait of Yukio Mishima'
From 'Ordeal By Roses'
Gelatin-silver print
Museum no. PH.1239-1980
© Eikoh Hosoe

The Photograph

The writer Yukio Mishima committed suicide in 1970, 'worn out by conflicts between spirit and flesh, words and the body, art and action'.

The book containing this image, Ordeal by Roses (Ba-Ra-Kei), was only published after Mishima's death, in 1971. Its final chapter was about dreams and death and can be seen as a morbid rehearsal for his last days.

'The portrait with the single rose is a picture of polarities. The dark menace of his eyes is of a man on a determined course. The white rose bleeds into the white of his skin. The picture is stripped down to a final mask with a fierce lyrical accusation.' Mark Holborn, author

The Photographer

Hosoe was the son of a Shinto priest and was familiar with the erotic prints called shunto in his father's shrine. He was evacuated from Tokyo during the war but returned to the city in 1945, where he mixed with a community of artists and writers.

'The language of black and white, male and female, is the vocabulary of a duality that Hosoe crossed in the same motion as he has drawn a line between East and West.' Mark Holborn, author


This photograph can be found in Print Room Box 16.