Hiro

Known for the originality of his photographs, Hiro’s photographic career began at Harper’s Bazaar New York as a fashion, still-life and portrait photographer. Shortly after arriving in America from Japan in 1954, Hiro landed an apprenticeship in Richard Avedon’s studio, soon proving too talented and in a few years rising to extraordinary fashion photography heights. In 1963 he became the only photographer under contract at Harper’s Bazaar. Hiro’s work is characterised by surprises, abnormalities, unusual lighting, Surrealism, the unreal and an astounding and constant vision.

<span class="title">Game Fowl (109-46), New York<span class="title_comma">, </span></span><span class="year">1981</span>
<span class="title">Game Fowl (214-47), New York<span class="title_comma">, </span></span><span class="year">1981</span>
<span class="title">Game Fowl (273-48), New York<span class="title_comma">, </span></span><span class="year">1981</span>
<span class="title">Game Fowl (A-02), New York <span class="title_comma">, </span></span><span class="year">1981</span>
Hiro
Game Fowl (109-46), New York, 1981
Gelatin silver print, mounted to linen
26 1/8 x 34 3/4 in.
Edition of 20
© Hiro

‘Fighting Fowl’ started as part of a personal project created alongside photographs of fighting Betta Splendens fish. These photographs, charged with violent movement and emotional tension, reveal Hiro’s genius in discovering beauty in the unexpected. 

 

The ‘Fighting Fowl’ series comprises 26 black and white images photographed in 1981 and 1988. The pictures make an astonishing visual statement of the ferocity of animals, with their simultaneous speed and grace.These images clearly reflect the influence of Asian art in both style and subject matter. Indeed, Susanna Moore compares these images to early Chinese literati paintings and Eighteenth-Century Japanese paintings known as the ‘Kano school’. 

 

Hiro loved exploring the possibility of the extraordinary, embedding his images with surprises, abnormalities and Surrealism. To look at a photograph by Hiro is to come face-to-face with a picture rife with unusual lighting effects, surprising angles, juxtaposing elements and bold colours. Richard Avedon described Hiro as a “visitor all his life”, meaning that Hiro, neither completely Eastern or Western, could document both cultures in his work with a perception that only comes from a certain detachment.