Kiyoshi Niiyama


Publication 2015

Cahier 9
Edited by Annette Kicken, Co-Editor Ina Schmidt-Runke
Published by Kicken Berlin, Berlin 2015
Essay by Carolin Förster
56 pages with 41 illustrations


Kiyoshi Niiyama was born in 1911 in Ehime Prefecture, in the northwestern region of the island of Shikoku, Japan. Niiyama participated actively in the Japanese and international photography scene from the mid 1950s, helping shape Japan’s amateur photography scene. In 1954 German photographer Otto Steinert invited him to take part in the second subjektive fotografie exhibition, but difficult postwar circumstances prevented his participation. In his work Niiyama focused on abstract imagery, following the principles of the international movement of subjective photography, which Steinert began promoting in 1951 with a number of seminal exhibitions and publications. In Japan, photography was both a medium of tradition and change, and the philosophy of the subjective movement resonated especially with the Japanese propensity for using photographic realities to create personal interpretations of the environment and thus to shape the subjects into pictures. In September 1962, September 1963, and again in October 1964, Niiyama dedicated three series to the manifold visualizations of the Morning Glory flower, which has a long tradition in Japanese literature. For the series, executed in his Tokyo home with a 35 mm camera, Niiyama used different film materials, micro lenses, and special lighting techniques to obtain his high-contrast black-and-white-images. The resulting pictures were a central part of Niiyama’s solo exhibition at Gekko (i.e. Mitsubishi) Gallery, in Tokyo, in October 1964.