Being known for dynamic photographs of flowers, goldfishes, and butterflies in bright colours and vibrant style, Mika Ninagawa is a highly acclaimed Japanese photographer and film director, who has won the prestigious Kimura Ihei Photography Award in 2011.

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Mika Ninagawa | Courtesy of amana art photo

Born in Tokyo in 1972, Ninagawa grew up in an artistic household in which her mother was an actress, and her father, Yukio Ninagawa, was a theatric director, specialising in reproducing Shakespeare plays and Greek tragedies into the Japanese language. Living in an urban city filled with its unique aesthetics of ‘kawaii’ culture, and Japanese anime like Akira and Gundam rising in popularity in the 80s, Ninagawa was greatly influenced by such creative surroundings. Among a variety of art forms, she found photography as the most emotionally direct way to express herself.

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Flowers | © Mika Ninagawa

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Goldfish | © Mika Ninagawa

For Ninagawa, photography is more than just about capturing something beautiful. In her collection noir, she alerts us to the brittleness of every alluring subject. With the flowers on a backdrop of black, all these photographs in high contrast and saturated colours permeate a sense of infertility. Evoking us to reflect on the ephemerality of beauty when life is so fragile, that it could be crumbled in a flash.

I like dark shadows, along with colours almost too bright and dazzling that I could go blind.

(Mika Ninagawa, 2012, Dazed & Confused)

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noir | © Mika Ninagawa

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noir | © Mika Ninagawa

Ninagawa made her directorial debut in 2007 with the film Sakuran. The iconic and dazzling composition in her works brought her opportunities to dabble in the media and advertising industry. In 2012, she released her second film Helter Skelter – a psychological horror story describing the tainted life of a female model who suffers from retaining her beauty. This movie was a huge success not simply because of its gorgeous imagery, but the piece itself is a disapprobation of the imposed quest for perfection, subverting the gender hierarchy under Japanese patriarchal culture.

Vogue Taiwan | © Mika Ninagawa

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Helter Skelter (2012) | © Mika Ninagawa

Through putting every fleeting moment into an inexplicably enthralling reverie, the exquisite mellowness within the overflowing life force of nature is a portrayal of femininity in full bloom. Ninagawa’s works battle the stereotypes of what traits females are expected to possess; by reinforcing and sharing the passion in one’s soul is what women should truly covet.

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Butterflies | © Mika Ninagawa

Apart from the entertainment aspect, Ninagawa also ventured into the world of design by launching her own fashion brand M/mika ninagawa in 2015, with up to four wedding dress collections so far. In collaboration with the Japanese fabric manufacturer Komatsu Seiren, her graphical shoots are made into digital print fabrics, so each piece still preserve her signature style of resplendence. In addition, Ninagawa was invited to be a member of committee in the coming 2020 Tokyo Olympics. This proves her splendid achievements are being recognised internationally; and are expanding in influences across different directions.

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M/ mika ninagawa | Photography courtesy of Fashion Headline

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Wedding Dress 4th Collection | © Mika Ninagawa

Wedding Dress 4th Collection | © Mika Ninagawa

Ninagawa’s extraordinary works are currently presented at the Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, Japan.

amana art photo. 2017. Mika Ninagawa | Artists | amana art photo | Explore and Collect Japanese Photography. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.amanaartphoto.com/artists/mika-ninagawa/. [Accessed 24 February 2017].

Bob Duggan. 2017. Fairy Princess: The Photography of Mika Ninagawa | Big Think . [ONLINE] Available at: http://bigthink.com/Picture-This/fairy-princess-the-photography-of-mika-ninagawa. [Accessed 24 February 2017].

Dazed. 2017. Mika Ninagawa | Dazed. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/15164/1/mika-ninagawa. [Accessed 24 February 2017].

Latest Fashion News from Tokyo, Japan | FASHION HEADLINE JAPAN. 2017. Mika Ninagawa Launches Fashion Brand for 2015 SS | Latest Fashion News from Tokyo, Japan | FASHION HEADLINE JAPAN. [ONLINE] Available at: http://en.fashion-headline.com/article/2014/11/10/2344.html. [Accessed 24 February 2017].

Mika Ninagawa Official Site. 2017. Mika Ninagawa Official Site. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.ninamika.com/en/. [Accessed 24 February 2017].