Ryuta Sakurai is an award winning Japanese (Osaka) photographer based in Düsseldorf, Germany. He has exhibited his works internationally and we are excited to have select images by him shown here at Siilk this coming June.
Ryuta Sakurai’s photography focuses on the nude body, on naked subjects in their most pure and vulnerable form, shooting their surroundings and capturing a small glimpse of their lifestyles in the 21st century.
Where are you from and where are you based?
I came from Osaka in Japan, I now live and work in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Can you tell us about growing up where you did and where you moved to and why?
I grew up in Osaka, and graduated at Osaka Art University, studied Documentary photography in the class of Prof. Hiromi Tsuchida who is a well known photographer and has produced several photographic collections of the aftermath from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
After graduation I worked as an assistant photographer for Masami Mori who specialized in advertising and moved from Osaka to Tokyo. After that I came back to Osaka and worked as photographer in a publishing company. Currently I am working as freelance photographer.
You have travelled all around Asia, and spent over a year doing so across countries, how was the experience, what made you decide to do it?
That long trip around Asia has brought me great awareness in my life. After such an experience, I was able to completely update my previous sense of values. I had a smartphone and was connected to the internet and walked non stop over land in a strange country.
In recent years, our daily lives are connected to an online virtual space. I see the world as an artificial place created by the expansion of human desires. I can say it is an extension of the natural world.
The world continues to accelerate into virtual space. The energy of desires, of people all over the world is being transformed and expanded. I was walking in remote parts of Asia, feeling the breeze of nature. That feeling is also affecting and circulating all forces. When a person undresses and exposes the body, the act appears as his/her facial expression and is photographed. I find reality in capturing such subtle changes in photographs.
Is there a favorite place you’ve visited and is there somewhere you would love to visit you haven’t?
Between 2014 and 2015, I traveled in South-Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and India. I would love to visit all these countries again to meet with the friends I made. At the Night club in Vientiane Laos, I met a lady-boy, and she put a sleeping pill into my glass, I was carried off by her into an abandoned building along Mekong River. When I woke up at the her hiding-place, she was naked, and she tried to take my clothes off. Instantly, I took a picture, and escaped from the building. I noticed that all my money had been stolen by her… 2 days later, I saw her on the street. She had changed her hair color to red. She was with her another lady-boy friend, they found me, shouted at me and chased after me. I ran away, scared. I never want to go to Laos again.
What draws you to nude photography?
I believe the human body is as beautiful as an animals. I want to take pictures of people under the same conditions as wild animals.
What do you try to express in your photos?
I want to find sympathy between myself and models though the images I make.
We love the color and life your images have, how would you describe your style and how did you start shooting the way you do?
I don’t choose models, I take a picture of anyone who is interested in my photography ideas. Usually I don’t instruct the models to pose, I photograph them as they want to be. I often shoot following their movements and flow.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
I am re-editing my photo book from my trip in Asia which was nominated last year for the “Unseen Dummy Book” award in Amsterdam. I want to make another photo book and collect all my recent works that have been shot in Düsseldorf. I would like to have them published also.
Who are your influences as a photographer? And how has Japan shaped the work you do?
When I was a high school student, accidentally I met Nobuyoshi Araki at the Korean BBQ restaurant in my hometown. He is known as the most famous and significant nude photographer in Japan. At that time my photography direction was already decided but I always tried not to take influence from his style because in those days many young people were influenced by his aesthetic and works. I tried to find my own style as photographer.
I’m inspired by my professor and photographer Hiromi Tsuchida’s approach to photography, which I mentioned above. He taught me to understand the characteristics of the times. From a technical point of view. I was in the field of advertising photography, where I learned how to handle light and work flow. As much as possible, I tried not to look at the works of other photographers.
I wanted to look to myself and find my own photography style. Also, I have especially loved Michael Jackson since childhood because of my mother. In 1995, my essay on environmental protection was selected for the “Heal the World” fund at the World Children’s Congress. Children from 18 countries were invited to his then-ever residence, Neverland. We discussed with him about peace in the world.
I respect him as an artist very much.
● Where can we find you online?
Instagram id: @saqra.lee & Room815.net