Tag Archives: Hara

Re Runs: Hisaji Hara

I’m stepping away from Lenscratch this week to work on a new personal website and prepare for upcoming photo activities…wanted to reintroduce you to some wonderful photographers featured several years ago, today with a post on Hisaji Hara that ran in 2010.


Many photographers, myself included, are inspired by painters. Toyko photographer Hisaji Hara has reproduced art works by Balthus in timeless black and white imagery.

Hara’s tranquil monochrome portraits look strangely familiar — and indeed, all are modeled after paintings by Balthus (1908-2001), one of the most revered artists of the 20th century. Although the figures and background furnishings are not identical to the originals, the compositions are. Through this tableau-vivant-like approach, Hara somehow manages to capture the essence of Balthus’s works.


photograph of Balthus and his wife

Images by Hisaji Hara followed by the paintings that inspired them.

Hisaji Hara @Michael Hoppen Gallery, London

© Hisaji Hara

A series of beautiful, monochrome portraits by Hisaji Hara who has modelled his photographic compositions upon paintings by Balthus (1908-2001), one of the most revered and controversial artists of the twentieth century, will go on display to the public at Michael Hoppen Gallery this Friday.

In the style of the Modern Master, Hara creates scenes imbued with an unsettling combination of innocence and eroticism. The models have the light, unselfconscious attitudes of playful children and yet their postures invite the eye to see them as sexual young women. Moreover, in reinventing the pictures, Hisaji Hara has chosen to dress his teenage subjects in school uniform, thereby emphasizing the uncomfortable transitional period between child- and adulthood. We feel as if we are the quiet, almost intrusive voyeurs to moments of youthful innocence.

Hisaji Hara is technically brilliant and very meticulous in his preparation for each image. The stage-set for these photographs is the derelict building of a privately run medical clinic used in the 1940s and 50s. In order to emulate the depth and eerie atmosphere found in Balthus’ paintings, Hara employs a number of techniques that transcend the use of photographic craft alone in order to mimic the skewed perspective of Balthus’ work, including smoke machines, specially commissioned furniture and unseen additions to his subjects’ costumes to create a strange angularity to their dress. Hara’s camera skills are evident in the use of multiple exposures and focuses whilst partially blocking the lens to create unusual depths of field which only add to the mystery of the scenes. The exhibition finishes on 31 March 2012.