Claude Samuel Gallery | Paris, France
From June 6th to June 30th, 2019
Our depicted heroine, Ginzilla, was born into a traditional Japanese family of uncompromisingly strict conservative-values. The effect was suffocating to her wild heart, engendering acts of rebellion perhaps most visible as the arresting marks of defiance, written in permanent-ink on the canvas of her body. These images tell the story of her life; illustrations of tigers, wolves, and dragons contrast societal expectations of female submission and obedience. Ginzilla’s first lover was a tattoo artist, a predilection which has guided her sexual journey. All of her body-art was composed and executed by lovers, compounding its personal meaning to her, while providing a veritable map of her life. Edgy, raw, and resilient, Nyari depicts her subject as a woman whose sexuality is defined independent of a man.
These dynamic photographs re-envision traditional concepts of femininity by juxtaposing the symbolism of the Japanese ‘Geisha’ with that of Yakuski (Japanese gangster) tattoos (Irezumju). Irezumju tattoos require a painful, meticulous method of manually inserting needles into the skin. Associated with the criminal activity of the Yakuski gangs, members would brand themselves with
Irezumi tattoos. Due to its painful process, Irezumju is considered a mark of the recipient’s bravery, and evidence of their insubordination. Despite the widening trend of tattoos among non-yakuza, they still carry a significant stigma in Japanese society.
In presenting her work as exquisitely crafted, large-scale photographs, Nyari elevates her model to that of Goddess, or perhaps, the Virgin Mary, subverting concepts of purity and sexuality, religion and sin. She is presented for the viewer’s meditative contemplation as a symbol of strength, defiance, and unapologetic female desire; her body on-display for worship, the tattoos adorning it, as if prayer beads of a rosary.
Geisha Ink tells the intoxicating story of Ginzilla, revealing and subverting female archetypes through a visual exploration of sexuality, taboos, eroticism and culture.
Living and working in New York City, Reka Nyari’s practice spans from fashion and fine art photography and videography, to elaborate installation and performance pieces. Oscillating between mischievous eroticism and wistful splendor, her work employs and explores traditional ideals of beauty and gender to portray sexuality from a predominantly female perspective. Nyari’s images of nude figures are not strictly intended as alluring portraits – while deriving their emotional charge from the familiar motifs of erotic photography, they expand the pictorial vocabulary to the realm of narratives, layering in personal histories and fictitious content. Unapologetically, Nyari embeds luscious and empowered bodies in luminous landscapes or against staged backdrops. Nudity, gesture, gaze, as well as objects become intrinsically linked to the feminine identity.
Born in 1979 in Helsinki, and raised in Finland and Hungary, Nyari came to New York City at the age of seventeen. After studying at The School of Visual Arts, she started modeling and discovered her interest for photography. The cinematography and eccentric narratives of Roman Polanski and David Lynch influence her work as much as the art of Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, Miles Aldridge and Cindy Sherman. Her work has been exhibited in numerous galleries in the United States and Europe. She has received awards from prestigious organizations, including first place Winner of International Photography Awards (IPA) 2010, Beauty Pro Category. Her 225 page Monograph titled “Femme Fatale: Female Erotic Photography” is published in 6 languages and sold worldwide. Her commercial client list is extensive and includes Kiki de Montparnasse, Fleur du Mal, RADO Switzerland, AOL, Liz Claiborne, Make Up Forever, DC Comics, Sally Hansen and Ultra Records. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines, including Esquire, Vanity Fair, Tatler, Korean Cosmopolitan, and Vogue.