Naoki Kimura and his Magnificent Fine Art Photography – A Marriage of Black and White

‘Beautiful’ is an instinct. ‘Beautiful’ is an emotion, attributed to human instincts.”

Naoki Kimura – Creed

Naoki Kimura’s art

Naoki Kimura is an artist of high caliber. His stunning photography rewrites our world in black and white, creating new territories where objects – natural or not – become mysteries shrouded in shadows, only to partially be revealed by a diffuse light that refuses to be defined. Light and shadows are antagonistic principles. The shadow is the absence of light; light is contained in, or kept captive, by the shadow. The extraordinary art of Naoki Kimura liberates the light from shadow bringing both in a perfect equilibrium. Kimura creates a world of stillness and beauty that forces one’s train of thought to stop. The emotions conveyed by his art are deep yet quiet, infused with a meditative quality. They reflect the purity and the beauty of the beginning of the world.  

The underlying theme of his photographic work is the perception, and further the expression, of “fluctuation,” which Naoki calls “calm=Lull -nagi-“. His works mainly depicted places and times of historical importance such as Italy and the Renaissance period. However, after his first solo exhibition in 2018, he started including Japanese motifs into his photography.

Naoki “creates” photography to explore beauty, and to seek its completion. One way he does it is via “calmness” and “fluctuation,” equivalent to the act of spinning flowers, birds, winds, and the moon [Ka-Cho-Fu-Getsu ][i] as “the beauty of things or pathos of things [Mono no aware][ii]“.


Naoki Kimura is the author of the book Nagi (Shinnihon Publishing) and the recipient of numerous international awards: Annual Awards 2006; Merit Award Winner, Black & White Magazine (USA); Black &White Spider Awards 2007 (Int.l.); Annual Award Nominee; Photobook “Nagi-nagi-“: YPP Graphic Arts 2014 YPP Award Winner The 56th National Catalog Poster Exhibition.

Short Bio

The artist spent his childhood in Nishijin[iii], Kyoto, Japan in a climate of mixed tradition and innovation. This is where the basis of his sensitivity to the gradation of “Qualia-texture” was formed. In the spring of his 15th year, Naoki happened to stop by a photo exhibition featuring work by impaired hearing artists. The photographs he saw impacted him profoundly. At that moment he decided to choose photography to express himself as an artist. As he puts it, to express his sensitivity.

Naoki graduated from Tokyo College of Photography. While at Tokyo College, he also entered Keio University and majored in aesthetics and art history. In 1987 he moved to the U.S. and completed his graduate studies in fine arts and urban planning at Harvard University.

In 1990 Naoki moved to New York where he signed an artist’s contract that took him to Florence, Italy. In Florence he began his career as a fine photographic artist.

After working in the Original Prints markets in Europe and the United States, Naoki’s work started being commissioned by art collectors. In addition, he provided work for domestic and international corporate branding needs.

Naoki has worked in Tokyo and New York. Since 2017, he has been based in Tokyo.

Exhibitions and Art Fairs (selected)

Naoki Kimura’s first exhibition took place in Tokyo in 1993.  His first solo exhibition was also in Tokyo in 2009. He started incorporating Japanese motifs in his work after his solo exhibition in 2018.  

Naoki Kimura Exhibition the tranquility as lullscape -Nagikei- “nagi” In praise of shadows” Sho+1 Gallery 2023
“Naoki Kimura “nagi” on the edge of Milestone – Exhibition” Fireking Café 2022
“Reality and Virtuality-Reality and Virtuality-Exhibition” Sho+1 Gallery 2021
“Architecture and Light -Six Photographers Interacting with Architecture-“Emon Photo Gallery 2019
“‘Naoki Kimura Exhibition’ – Nagi Gaiden – nagi – anecdote – (Special Exhibition)” Ginza Soei Gallery 2018
“Naoki Kimura ‘through the window -falling light-‘ Exhibition” Emon Photo Gallery 2015
“Naoki Kimura ‘Nagi’ Photobook Publication Commemorative Exhibition” Emon Photo Gallery 2014
“Director’s Choice Vol.3 B&W Exhibition” Emon Photo Gallery 2013
“Director’s Choice Vol.2” Emon Photo Gallery 2012
“PORTRAIT” Emon Photo Gallery 2011
“Silent monochrome” Emon Photo Gallery 2010
“Nagi/NAGI”-Standing up, Tamayura’s time-Naoki Kimura Exhibition
Emon Photo Gallery 2009
“ML Collaboration Project: Photography as Interior” Cassina IXC Aoyama 2005
“3 days in ChinaTown” Exposure (Shibuya PARCO) 1993

Art fairs:

Art Stage Osaka 2022, 2022
Art Fair Tokyo 2022, 2022
Daikanyama Photo Fair 2017
Tokyo Photo 2012, 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair 1993


[i] “Ka-cho-fu-getsu” is a Japanese expression that represents the four seasons of nature: “ka” (花) for flowers in spring, “cho” (鳥) for birds in summer, “fu” (風) for wind in autumn, and “getsu” (月) for the moon in winter. This expression encapsulates the beauty and symbolism associated with each season in Japanese culture.

The concept of “Ka-cho-fu-getsu” embodies the traditional Japanese aesthetic of appreciating nature’s beauty and finding inspiration in the ever-changing natural cycles. It reflects the deep cultural values of harmony, transience, and the appreciation of the present moment.

[ii] “Mono no aware” is a Japanese term that can be translated as “the pathos of things” or “the sensitivity to the ephemeral nature of existence.” It is a concept deeply rooted in Japanese culture and aesthetics.The concept originated from the Heian period (AC794-1185) in Japan and is associated with the literature of that time, particularly in works such as “The Tale of Genji.” It emphasizes the fleeting and fragile nature of human experiences, as well as the inherent sadness that accompanies the passing of time.

[iii] Nishijin is a district located in Kyoto, Japan, and is renowned as a traditional weaving center. Nishijin flourished as a city during the Heian period (AC.794-1185) and became a hub for textile production. Skilled artisans and weavers gathered in the area, carrying on traditional techniques and designs that continue to be used in the production of textiles to this day.


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20 thoughts on “Naoki Kimura and his Magnificent Fine Art Photography – A Marriage of Black and White

  1. I have rarely read such an interesting and well-structured article. Naoki Kimura’s photography fascinates me, as does Japanese culture. Thank you, Gabriela!

  2. “Mono no aware”; seeps such a melancholic light diffusing all around us as time uncandles ours. ✨🎶✨ Your gorgeous photography honors life, Nakoki. Thank you so very much for sharing your work with us.

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