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David Bowie: Photographs by Masayoshi Sukita

David Bowie: Heroes

Exhibition preview

CENTRAL London music photography specialists, Snap Galleries, are to host a new exhibition by Japanese master photographer Masayoshi Sukita.

Running from March 23 to April 30, 2013, the exhibition celebrates Sukita’s 40+ year collaboration with David Bowie, and features images of David Bowie from 1972 to 2002.

This photographic exhibition is the first time that a collection of important images from Sukita’s David Bowie archives will have been exhibited in the UK.

The exhibition, which will be held at Snap Galleries’ space in Piccadilly Arcade, launches on Saturday, March 23, 2013, the same day that the V&A Museum start their major David Bowie retrospective.

Sukita’s work is hugely popular among Bowie afficionados and many of his David Bowie images were featured in the now sold-out limited edition book, Speed of Life (2012, Genesis Publications). The gallery exhibition consists mainly of previously unpublished photographs, alongside familiar classics, all in a range of physical sizes, and including some dramatic large format pieces.

Sukita, with a background in fashion photography, had never even photographed a musician when he first saw David Bowie live in concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall in 1972. He had been drawn to the concert by a poster of Bowie featuring a striking image by Brian Ward, who shot the Ziggy Stardust cover.

The concert had a profound impact on Sukita. He bought all of Bowie’s records, and was determined to do all he could to meet him, and photograph him. Not easy when his English was almost non existent. However, through an English speaking Japanese friend in London, Sukita was able to arrange a meeting with David Bowie’s manager Tony Defries and Bowie’s friend British photographer Mick Rock.

Sukita took along his fashion portraits, and impressed Defries and Rock so much that a session was booked with David Bowie. This all happened within a week of the Royal Festival Hall concert, and then, in August 1972, Sukita’s first studio session with David Bowie took place, marking the start of a 40+ year professional relationship.

Sukita was there to welcome Bowie upon his arrival to Japan in 1973, and accompanied him on numerous subsequent visits. Over the years, between press conferences and photo shoots, Sukita and Bowie explored the cities, relaxed with friends, and attended Iggy Pop’s birthday party. The two continue to work together.

Speaking about Bowie, Sukita said: “I understood entirely how he felt about using and playing with different media, how he was also inspired by cinema and combined other ideas with his own concepts to create something bold and new. David was expressing many of the interests I also felt and could relate to, ideas that I was trying to show in my work.”

In 1977, Sukita took the iconic cover shoot for Bowie’s Heroes album. This is perhaps Sukita’s most famous photograph of David Bowie. The exhibition will include previously unpublished photographs from the album cover session, presented alongside the classic album cover image.

The Heroes sleeve art is now attracting renewed interest, because the cover for David Bowie’s new studio album, The Next Day, due for release on March 11, 2013, takes the Heroes cover as its base.

Sukita’s signed limited editions are available to purchase.

Admission: Free.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday 11am to 6pm. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Snap Galleries, 12 Piccadilly Arcade, London, SW1Y 6NH

Tel: 020 7493 1152