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Ravens and Sasuke are two essential works from world renown Japanese photographer Masahisa Fukase.

Consistently proclaimed as one of the most important photobooks in the history of the medium, Solitude of Ravens was first published in 1984 and the two subsequent editions have both been short runs and have sold out immediately. Ravens is a bilingual facsimile of the first hardback edition, and is accompanied by a booklet positioning the body of work in the history of Japanese photography and Fukase’s oeuvre.

The haunting series of work in Ravens was made between 1975 and 1982 in the aftermath of a divorce and was apparently triggered by a mournful train journey to his hometown. The coastal landscapes of Hokkaido serve as the backdrop for his profoundly dark and impressionistic photographs of ominous flocks of crows. The work has been interpreted as an ominous allegory for postwar Japan.

Sasuke, on a brighter note, is dedicated to Fukase’s emblematic series on his two cats: Sasuke and Momoe, combining unpublished and iconic images. In 1977, Fukase turned his lenses on his new companion Sasuke. Growing up with felines, he decides with the arrival of this new cat in his life that it would become a photographic subject in his own right, fascinated by this creature full of life named after a legendary ninja.

As often in his work, this series shows a form of projection of the photographer into his subject. The cat, a faithful companion who never leaves him, takes the place of his wife, eternal heartache, later represented by the iconic fleeing crows. His cats have been the subject of several books in his lifetime and Tomo Kosuga has dug into the photographer’s archives to conceive this ultimate book as the achievement of a series of publications devoted to his cats.

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