T H E  B I G  B O M B  (2015)

Documentary Film about japanese Artist Shinjiro Okamoto (1933 - 2020).

This is a personal project that I am very glad I made. Shinjiro Okamoto is my grandfather (Yes, in Japan my legal name is actually Rintaro Okamoto) and has been a major influence and inspiration in my childhood and early photography career. He was the only family member who was making a living as an Artist (mind you he became a full time artist after he retired at 50 years old from an art directior position at a big Japanese publishing house). For a long time I had no actual grasp on how influential my grandfather was because I would see him watching TV in the living room drinking a beer like any other person would do. When I was little he would often challenge me to a fight (he was also a 6.Dan Aikido Master). Fun Fact, the first time I was able to put him down to the ground I was 15 years old. I remember how my grandmother screamed at me saying "Stop it! You will kill him!". And he would get up with his face blood-filled and red but pretending like I didn't even bruise him.

The older I became the more I became aware of his reputation in the art world. In Japan he is often considered a "Pioneer of Japanese Pop Art". His Artworks are bright, colorful und almost have a childlike quality (in a good sense) to them. Clueless as I was I haven't fully grasped what his art is all about until I became a young adult, trying to make a name for myself as an artist / photographer. 

Me with my Grandfather infront of his work "Feet of the Buddha" (1999)

"The upbeat and festive pictorial spaces do indeed entertain the viewers, but at the same time do not pander to them, presenting a calmness akin to an eye of a storm."

Quote from the Tokyo Gallery Website

What makes Shinjiro Okamoto's Art unique is that he is working with themes of war. But he does it in a way that seems innocent and he would often include characters and idols from pop culture (like Einstein, Monroe, Elvis...). One particular event in his life became very significant to him and is crucial to understand where he is coming from. He was 10 years old when he witnessed the skyline of Tokyo going up in flames after a fire-bombing attack that took place during the Second World War. A scene that would be engraved into his brain so vividly, that he dedicated decades of work to visualise and manifest this traumatising experience into his personal Art. One example is his most important work (according to his words) "The Big Bomb" which he first exhibited in 2011 at the Shoto Museum of Art in Tokyo.

Photos: Samuel Lintaro Hopf

Shinjiro Okamoto passed away in April 2020 after fighting cancer for several years.

I want this page to serve as a memorial to his person and work. I will update this page over time with more images.

If you want to learn more about Shinjiro Okamoto, you can see recent news and upcoming exhibitions at the Tokyo Gallery Website: