Zen Foto Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of vintage prints by Kurata Seiji from November 27, 2021, to February 5, 2022. Kurata Seiji first studied photography in 1974 as one of the first students at the independent photography school “Workshop”, founded by Tomatsu Shomei, Araki Nobuyoshi, and other photographers. Since then, he has immediately shown his talent with his sharpened sense and outstanding technique by publishing numerous masterpieces in the snapshot format and has become known as an unprecedented street photographer in Japan.

In this exhibition, Zen Foto will present some of Kurata’s early works, including many vintage prints, which were left in his studio after he sadly passed away on 27 February 2020. When the works were first published, Daido Moriyama admirably wrote in the last issue of the quarterly “Work Shop” (1976) that “I must say that instead of the world the artificial light has exposed the inner realm of Kurata Seiji, exactly the way it is”, while Kurata himself described his early “Street Photo Random” period as “the time when I developed my attitude towards photography and my style of consciousness formation”. We hope you will take this opportunity to witness the “inner realm of Seiji Kurata” under the new light after nearly half a century.

“Can a certain moment become an eternity
If so, I would feel it’s a miracle
With the passing of time, eventually…
Should the air of a certain place
meditating on the word of love
connect with the air under the same sky
where others on earth live
then I will… accept the world”

Kurata Seiji Tokyo, April 2017

*Please note that the exhibition is divided into two parts:
Part 1 (11/27-12/25) Night, Alleys & People
Part 2 (1/7-2/5) Lads & Gangs

Artist Profile


Born 1945 in Tokyo, Kurata Seiji graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts, Department of Painting in 1976. From 1974 to 1976, he also studied photography at the Workshop, featuring instructors including Tomatsu Shomei and other photographers. In 1980, Kurata won the 5th Kimura Ihei Award for his series “Street Photo Random Tokyo 1975-1979”. Recognized in and out of Japan, his recent exhibitions include “Autophoto” at Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain (Paris, 2017) and “Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins” at Barbican Art Gallery (London, 2018). His main publications include “Flash Up: Photo Street Random 1975-1979” (1980, Byakuya Shobo), “Photo Cabaret” (1982, Byakuya Shobo), “Great Asia” (1990, IPC), “‘80s Family” (1991, JICC), “Japan” (1998, Shinchosha), “Quest for Eros” (1999, Shinchosha), “Flash Up” (New Edition, 2013, Zen Foto Gallery), and “Eros Lost” (2020, Zen Foto Gallery). Kurata passed away on February 27, 2020.

Publications & Prints