ROSPHOTO presents “Sumo. Are-Bure-Boke” (jap. 相撲. あれぶれ暈け), an exhibition of works by renowned Polish photographer Tomasz Gudzowaty. The photographer reveals the mysterious world of rikisi and sumo to the audience. The photographs are completed in the “are-bure-boke” style, a Japanese photographic movement of the 1970s, which translates literally to “harsh, blurred and out of focus.” The exposition presents Gudzowaty’s new work, quite uncharacteristic for him as an established master of the elegant and thoughtful shot. The artist describes his method as following:

“I destroyed my work, the result of numerous years of preparation. I killed detail in my photographs, ripped them up, burnt them. The details scatter the eye, distract from the deeper layers. Through sumo, I almost kill myself; reject individuality, my perfectionism in the presentation of materials, as I am afraid that only the surface layer will be noticed. I am afraid, that I am showing a beautiful box, which no one opens. What I want to say is too important to me to allow room for mistakes or innuendo.”

These words come as a surprise from the photographer, whose recognizable style is associated with perfectly staged and balanced, meticulously thought through shots. And yet, this approach to sumo, Japan’s national sport, deeply rooted in the traditional ritualistic and sacral culture of the country, seems entirely natural. Tomasz Gudzowaty elaborates on this theme using the provocative aesthetics of “are-bure-boke.” He is inspired by the work of photographers involved with the experimental Japanese magazine Provoke (Purovōku, プロヴォーク), which was founded in 1968.

Provoke became the starting point of the dissemination of a new style, characterized by expressiveness and the ambition to free photography from subordination to verbal language. “Visual images cannot present ideas as fully as words,” — says the manifesto of the magazine’s founding group. “But, photographs can stimulate language and ideas, creating a new language and new meaning.” The photographer can catch something that cannot be expressed with words, presenting photographs as “documents” for others to read; hence the subheading of the magazine, “Provocative materials for reflection.” As Tomasz Gudzowaty puts it,

“In Provoke, form is almost completely ignored, only substance remains. Precisely this served as the inspiration for the demonstration of sumo as a symbol of what I saw working on this theme. In sumo photographs have movement, but they also fade, as if disappearing. This highlights the necessity of rushing and working on detail, once again filling what is washed off, destroyed by the influence of time and change. […] I would like to destroy the view of sumo as a stable and uninterrupted tradition. Move this block. Show that sumo lives, changes, it is only us that refuse to accept this. It is easier to idealise tradition and not deny its plasticity than accept the changes necessary for its preservation.”

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