NONAMI Hiroshi


(1954- ) Shimane.

Fantasy-like portraits of women and nudes. Sophisticated, composited images made by hand, without any computer.

Major themes: Women, nudes

Education: Osaka Shashin Senmon Gakko (present Osaka Designer's Gakuin), Osaka;graduated 1974.

Career: Established Studio No・ah in 1979. Numerous solo exhibitions since 1991.

Sample photos


Published: 2005-01-08 Publisher: art space K ISBN: 4990222768 Price in Japan: Y6,300 Qualities: B4, 140 pp., soft cover, color photos Language: Japanese and English

It's been 5 years since Osaka-based Hiroshi Nonami produced his last photo book. His past photo books like Abyss and E-MODE were memorable and unique. So people know and remember who he is despite the 5-year lapse.

When I first saw the Abyss book, I assumed incorrectly that all the special effects on his female models were done with a personal computer and Photoshop. I even wrote a book review claiming that it was done digitally. It wasn't until early 2005 when one of Nonami's associates told me that he does not use a computer. All the images were made by hand. No computers, no Photoshop. This was a great surprise, prompting me to correct my book review.

Now he's at it again. Although I'm still not sure how he creates these fantastic images of mostly non-Japanese women, I've been assured that he does not use a computer. There are a variety of techniques and tricks that he uses. Such as letting mold grow on the film during the summer. (That's why some images have a moldy stain or pattern.) He also stacks the slides to combine images and obtain various effects. He admits that even he often cannot predict how the image will turn out. Sometimes an error turns out to be a blessing in disguise. (Like when he found mold growing on his film and thought it was a great effect.) He does manually whatever Photoshop can do. It's a painstaking process and no wonder it took 5 years to publish this book.

Well, it was worth the wait since the results are simply stunning and mind-blowing. The models are dressed up in incredible costumes with extremely elaborate hairdos. Wings sprout from her back, a huge "flower garden" stacked on her head, vines twisting around her body, etc., etc. And there's also a lot of texture, with wrinkled or cracked surfaces, mold, etc.

The women are all goddesses. Mousa is a Greek goddess of the arts. It's interesting to note that more foreign women were willing to pose than Japanese women. Nonami surmises that Japanese models are more shy about posing nude. Yes, many of the models are nude or semi-nude (as they were in Abyss).

On the occasion of publishing this book, Nonami held exhibitions in Osaka and Tokyo in early 2005. I was invited to meet him at his show in Tokyo at the Aoyama Book Center. He turned out to be a nice guy and the exhibition of his Mousa works were outstanding.

The book is available in two editions. The luxury edition has a hardcover with slipcase (10,000 yen in Japan), and the softcover edition (what we are selling) for the rest of us. (Reviewed by Philbert Ono. Special thanks to the publisher for lending a review copy.)


Reviewed on: 2002-05-24 Last modified: 2005-04-05

Fantastic nude images created with the computer (not!).


Published: 2000-03-15 Publisher: Kawade Shobo Shinsha ISBN: 4309903800 Price in Japan: ¥3,570 Qualities: Hard cover, color photos Size: A4, 80 pp. Language: English (bio only)

Oops, after all these years, I thought that he used a computer and Photoshop to create these incredible images. But no, he makes these images by hand. No digital, no computer, and no Photoshop. It makes his work even more mind-boggling. Below is my original and mistaken book review: --- This is one of the few Japanese photo books featuring digital photography as fine art. You would think there would be more people doing this kind of thing in Japan, but no. It seems that image editing with a computer is more popular for commercial purposes instead of fine art.

The artist photographed nude models in a photo studio, and then fused or juxtapositioned a myriad of things on the woman's body such as giant butterfly wings on her back, tree roots on her head, a unicorn horn on her forehead, and a fish tail replacing her legs (not like a mermaid). Sometimes it's hard to tell what was actually photographed with the model and what was added later with a computer.

All the models are non-Japanese, and all the pictures are nice to look at. I wonder how long it took him to create these fantastic images. Since Abyss was originally published in 1993 (this book is a reprint), computers then were much less powerful and much slower than today's PCs. He must have had many coffee breaks during the times he had to wait for Photoshop to finish a task or save an image. He has done similar digital images for Makiko Esumi in E-Mode. (Reviewed by Philbert Ono)


Reviewed on: Nov. 18, 1999 Last modified: 2005-04-05

Another artistic nude photo book of actress Makiko Esumi.

Published: Nov. 25, 1999 More info Publisher: Little More Co. More info ISBN: 4898150128 More info Price in Japan: ¥2,625 More info Qualities: Soft cover, color photos More info Size: A4, 104 pp. More info Language: Japanese and English

This is her second nude photo book and a terrific follow-up to her first one (see review above). She's got class, and an eye for art. This is a fine-art nude photo book, not one of those idol-type nudes nor sensational-type nudes.

Her first nude book had a horizontal format, but this book is totally vertical. She's getting really botanical with a lot of roots, flora, vines, and leaves interwined with her body. Sometimes it looks like she's transforming into a tree. Being a former fashion model, she's very good at posing for the camera. The photos have a dreamy look to them, with greenish-yellow tones. They also look like fantasy, with huge angelic wings sprouting from her back or a unicorn horn coming out of her head. There seems to be a lot of digital editing and enhancements in the photos, but the photographer does not use a computer. It's all hand-made images.

This is no doubt one of the finest nude photo books in recent years.

Biography in Japanese

1954 2月13日 島根県生

1974 大阪写真専門学校卒

1979 Studio No・ah 設立

1991 個展─EXHIBITION/大阪

1992 個展─IMPRESSION and EXPRESSION コダックフォトサロン(東京) ソニーサロン(大阪)

1993 写真集「ABYSS」出版 個展─ABYSS OF TIME/アセンスギャラリー(大阪) GOOD ART展 出展/京都市美術館

1995 LUNA SEA写真集「ZOE」出版 写真集「EUREKA」出版 DanseMacabre展 出展/San Anton musuem(米)

1997 写真集「CHAOS」出版 個展─CHAOS/堀内フォトサロン(大阪・名古屋)

1998 個展─Foto-en diasalon/ベルギー

1999 江角マキコ写真集「E-MODE」出版

2000 写真集「ABYSS」改訂新版 出版

1999〜2000 個展─E-MODE/パルコ(東京・名古屋・札幌・大阪)

2003 個展─野波浩自掴展/art space K(大阪) 他 個展数回

2004 個展—MOUSA出版記念個展/art space K(大阪)

2005 個展—MOUSA出版記念個展/アセンスギャラリー(大阪)

2005 新作写真集MOUSA出版

現在/いのうえ歌舞伎(劇団☆新感線)、 宝塚歌劇団等の宣伝美術を手掛ける など、多方面で活躍中 ( より)