OSAMU SHIIHARA (1905-1974)
Osamu Shiihara, born 1905 in Osaka city, entered in 1928 the Tokyo School of Fine Arts (now Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music), where he studied painting in the Western painting department.
After graduating in 1932 he returned to Osaka and set up a painting studio in Hyogo prefecture. He began photography around this time and became a member of the “Tanpei Photography Club” (Tanpei Shashin Kurabu). Tanpei club was organized by amateur photographers at Tanpei house. The Tanpei Photography Club was a leading photography club in Japan and was higher regarded as the two photo clubs , the Naniwa photo club and the Ashiya Camera club, in Kansai (area of Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe). Soon after Osamu Shiihara joined the club he became a leading member, besides the photographers Nakaji Yasui and Bizan Ueda.
Osamu Shiihara produced a large number of experimental works, employing such special techniques as photogram solarization and a combination of drawing and photography that he dubbed “photo peinture”. Shiihara’s efforts to achieve new expression as a modern artist are clearly reflected in the powerful forms of his nude photography; while one can perceive the germs of a modernist realism in the straightforward gaze he fixes on subjects in other photographs, like in the series “Wandering Jews”. “Wandering Jews” was collaboratively produced by six photographers from the club, including Osamu Shiihara and Yasui Nakaji.
After the war Shiihara moved in Ikeda city, Osaka prefecture, where he worked for a company involved with dyeing. In 1953 he joined with Tanahashi Shisui and other photographers in forming the “Spiegel Photographers Association”.
Rei Masuda from the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, characterized the photography by Osamu Shiihara as ”mild urban modernism based on the rich modern consumer’s lifestyle, which had been flourishing in the area between Kobe and Osaka since the 1920s.“
– Masuda, Rei: Traces of Light in Modernism: Koshiro Onchi, Osamu Shiihara and Ei-Kyu. National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo 1997
– Tucker, Anne: The History of Japanese Photography. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston 2003