“Illuminance” & “Cui Cui”


text by: Matteo Cremonesi

Kindness, courtesy and respect for nature and things are at the center of Japanese culture and the normal daily life of the population. This important cultural aspect is reflected in the Japanese language in words and expressions that represent concepts that in other languages are not enclosed in a single term.

Kikubari is a Japanese word that essentially means “to be careful or to pay attention”: attention to a detail, a gesture or a practice, but above all attention to what surrounds us.

The sometimes almost maniacal attention is among the characteristics that distinguish Japanese people and their arts including photography. The latter, thanks to its natural predisposition to encourage observation and listening to the surrounding, as well as to the curious historical relationship that saw it become extremely popular in the late 1940s, has become one of the means through which the sensitivity of many Japanese authors has found a way to be spoken.

Rinko Kawauchi’s work looks at ordinary things and everyday situations. Her images reach their specific quality thanks to a wise use of perspective and cutting, as well as to the subtle search for a natural light combined with veils of color that bring his images to a sense of enchantment.

Kawauchi works in series. Collections of images that, in the form of open narratives, know how to combine poetry and emotion with representations of mortality and occasional melancholy.


In the Utatane series, a Japanese word that defines the state between wakefulness and sleep, the author demonstrates an intentionality focused on what she calls “the small voices that whisper to her since she was a child”. Of these genres are the suggestions to which Rinko Kawauchi draws; the search for an intimate origin of the world, described according to a very personal, fragmentary and fleeting aesthetic, in which every detail is linked to the notions of birth, life, death and the slow passing of time.
By virtue of this delicate search for poetic tension, the author often makes use of the same photographic errors, distorting some of the basic rules of photography. This is the case of Luminance, where overexposures that go far beyond “exposing to right” and photographs moved, give the shots an aura of impermanence and at the same time fixity, two opposite concepts that the author measures and combines with intelligence until they coexist harmoniously.

Observing the sequence of shots proposed in the numerous projects of Rinko Kawauchi means surrender to a contemplative dimension, for which small things flow enchanted in a precious splendor alongside life and death.

Cui Cui

Rinko Kawauchi was born in Shiga in 1972 and became interested in photography while studying at the Seian Junior College of Art and Design. As usual with Japanese photographers, she began her career as an artist by publishing her own photographic works. In 2001 she became popular in one day in Japan, after the simultaneous publication of three photography books Hanako (named after a disabled girl), Utatane (siesta) and Hanabi (fireworks).
In her native country, Rinko Kawauchi is one of the most celebrated photographers of her generation. 

Copyright © Rinko Kawauchi, all rights reserved

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