The genre of street photography is difficult to keep within the bounds of a strict definition or set of rules. In the 1990s, Japanese photographer and artist Masahisa Fukase made black-and-white snapshots of the textures of Japanese streets and pavements, and then dribbled paint, drew, and dabbed at the prints with his inky fingers to create layers of personal abstraction on top of the photographed “organic” abstractions of well-worn street surfaces.

The textures, cracks and fissures, overlaid with psychedelic color, take the viewer along a road trip that seems, at once, personal, introspective and quirky. The old-fashioned date stamps on the analog images somehow make these works even more concrete, and at the same time, a bit melancholy. Four months after the premier exhibition of this work in 1992, Fukase fell down the stairs of Tokyo’s Shinjuku Golden Gai (a popular hangout for Japanese photographers then and now), and suffered a traumatic brain injury from which he never recovered. He died twenty years later, in 2012.

This new, nearly wordless book, presents the full series of images from Hibi. It is an elegant invitation to get lost in one’s own thoughts for a while, elevating the grittiness of reality into the poetry of the sublime.

—Jim Casper



Hibi
by Masahisa Fukase
240 pages
111 colour plates
16 cm x 26 cm
Paperback with multiple gate-folds and dust-jacket
Published by MACK, 2016