Shomei Tomatsu, one of Japan’s foremost twentieth-century photographers created one of the defining portraits of postwar Japan. Beginning with his meditation on the devastation caused by the atomic bomb in Nagasaki, Tomatsu continued to focus on the tensions between traditional Japanese culture and the growing Westernization of the nation. Beginning in the late 1950s, Tomatsu depicted the seismic impact of the American victory and occupation. He originally named this series Occupation, but later retitled it Chewing Gum and Chocolate to reflect the handouts given to Japanese kids by the soldiers – sugary and addictive, but ultimately lacking in nutritional value. And although many of his most iconic images are from this series, this work has never before been gathered together in a single volume.
Shomei Tomatsu (1930 – 2012) played a central role in the photography agency Vivo. He participated in the groundbreaking New Japanese Photography exhibition in 1974 at the MoMA, New York, and, in 2011, the Nagoya City Art Museum featured a comprehensive survey of his work. He was the recipient of numerous awards, including the 1999 Japan Art Grand Prix.