Yoshimitsu Umekawa

October 16, 2016 by Laura Gomez


Yoshimitsu Umekawa (born 1976, Tokyo) is a Japanese photographer who lives and works in Tokyo.

Since 1999, he has worked mainly in the field of commercial art including culture and music magazines, CD covers, fashion, advertisements and has exhibited as a freelance photographer. Excelling at portraits of musicians (including Daft Punk, Rammellzee, Kool Keith and Missy Elliott), he has been photographing club culture and the hip hop scene in Japan for the last 10 years. In 2012, he started to focus on creating his own artwork and self-published his debut photo book ‘LEAVE ME ALONE’ in an unconventional format. In the same year, his new series of work ‘Incarnations’ made the cover of ‘TRANSIENCE – Art Issue 004’ by Lodown Magazine (an art and culture magazine from Berlin, Germany). Also in 2012, another controversial photo book titled ‘DRIP BOMB’ was published by ERECT LAB.

Photo Interview:

Name:Yoshimitsu Umekawa
Birthday: 26/11/1976
Age: 39

Why are you an photographer, and when did you first become one? Since 1999 I have taken primarily culture magazines and CD jackets and advertising as a freelance photographer.And from 2012 to now, I publish the work in more full-fledged photo album and mainly foreign magazines.

Can we talk a bit about your process at the beginning of a project? How do you conceive of it? How do you build it in your mind before you start? My work, say in common is the question and contradictions to society felt on a daily basis. Analyze them, organize, and visualization.

What’s the best advice anyone gave you? Mostly I dont listen advice from the others.

Do you suffer for your art? It’s tiring.

How would you define yourself as an artist? I dont know.

What inspires you to work? Daily basis and friends

You seem to use a lot of symbols in your work. Do your works tell stories or are they simply decorative elements of the project? My works express the different meaning by series. And it leves from my intention, I think that each viewer may receive the meaning what they feel.

What famous artists have influenced you, and how? Paul McCarthy.He told me the ari is pleasant.

What other interests do you have outside of art?
All that reace beyond the limits of current human being. Science, chemical, evolution, etc and if there is humor.

You seem to be very aware of the history of works. Where do you see films, photo exhibitions, art perfomances today?
Recently I most often go to the exhibition of friend and watch films than overseas famous artists.

How would your life change if you were no longer allowed to create art? I twill be a thing of dull.

What are your next projects? The big scale solo exhibition. Im loooking for a person or agent and galleries that cooperate in the activities.
e-mail : x@umekawayoshimitsu.com


2015 “HIDDEN CHAMPIONS OF TOKYO” Backwoods Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
2015 “Kosuke KAWAMURA collage Works MIX-UP” space caiman,Tokyo, Japan
2015 “New Year ! 35 minutes” Studio 35 minutes, Tokyo, Japan
2014 “BCTION” New Kojimachi building,Tokyo, Japan
2014 “K.I.Y.O.S.H.I.R.O I.M.A.W.A.N.O TRIBUTE EXHIBITION vol.6 SUMMERTIME BLUES” Coolie’s Creek,Tokyo, Japan
2014 “Here is ZINE Tokyo 8” curated by Enlightenment, TOKYO CLUTUART by BEAMS, Tokyo, Japan
2013 “Good Buy Photo!” BA-TSU ART GALLERY, curated by EYESCREAM Magazine,Tokyo, Japan
2012 “WELLDONE” Raum 1F, Tokyo, Japan
2012 “STREET THAN PARADISE” Moscow Lounge, Tokyo, Japan
2009 “Good to be mummy” YAMAMOTO GENDAI, curated by Chim?Pom, Tokyo, Japan
2009 “100 Photographers 2009 Love?Peace” curated by COMMERCIAL PHOTO, Tokyu Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
2007 “POCKET FILMS Festival in Japan” Theme Program, Shinko Kaijyo, Yokohama, Japan
2007 “THE ROYAL HOUSE exhibition” MONKY GALLERY, Tokyo, Japan
2007 “FANCY HEAD” 2 persons exhibition with Kensei Yabuno, BEAMS GALLERY, Tokyo, Japan
2005 “FREMED” curated by SURFACE TO AIR, BBS, Tokyo, Japan
2005 “N.W.B.A Public/image.” YAMAHA EXREALM, Tokyo, Japan
2004 “TORI EXHIBITION” tranqroom, Kyoto, Japan
2004 “CPF meet TORI EXHIBITION” CPF, Tokyo, Japan

Incarnations Title Credits:
01. Incarnations #009 (Paradigm), 2012
02. Incarnations #066 (Human Nature), 2015
03. Incarnations #056 (Spread), 2015
04. Incarnations #060 (Urban), 2014
05. Incarnations #062 (Fury), 2015
06. Incarnations #063 (The Flash), 2015
07. Incarnations #061 (Mr. Mickey), 2015
08. Incarnations #072 (New Frontier), 2015
09. Incarnations #070 (Mr.Surprise), 2015
10. Incarnations #050 (Rapture), 2015
11. Incarnations #078 (Obey), 2016
12. Incarnations #080 (Skull), 2016
13. Incarnations #081 (Encounter), 2016
14. Incarnations #082 (Weird), 2016
15. Incarnations #084 (Synesthesia), 2016
16. Incarnations #010 (Toxic Avenger), 2012