Interviewing a mythical figure like Masayoshi Sukita is never an easy thing. And sure enough, it wasn’t so even last September in Bologna, when we met him on the occasion of the opening of his exhibition ‘ICONS: DAVID BOWIE, IGGY POP, MARC BOLAN’. Some hours before, we had already had a meeting with him in Piazza Maggiore, where he was taking photos of the many beautiful historical buildings in the area (here about our meeting with him). At the opening itself, at the Ono Arte gallery, we chatted, took some pictures together and planned this interview. Sukita’s schedule is always very busy, so we had been waiting for some months to do the interview. When the master was finally ready, we just had a few minutes to ask him some questions. The man who portrayed Bowie so many times, from Ziggy through to “Heroes”, Tin Machine and up until David’s retirement in the noughties, has recently inaugurated in Japan 3 different exhibitions dedicated to the man who fell to Earth, plus on more in Puglia. There, he managed to catch up with his old pal Iggy Pop, who had just had an amazing concert in Bari. Sukita’s answers are precious to us, not only because we are Bowie fans, but because we love him as one of photography’s greats, as a kind and magnificent hero of the lens, too.
Mr. Sukita, along your career you have realized incredible photos to several magnificent artists. Are there any subjects you wanted to portray in the past but you couldn’t?
MS: I’ve been loving James Dean since I was a child. So he comes the first of all if it’s possible. More realistic, Tony Visconti and Brian Eno.
You met and photographed David so many times from 1972 to 2009. He often had a completely distinct “mask” and aspect. What did you think each time you met a “different” David Bowie?
MS: It made me a little confused, but also I was convinced by his artistic sense.
The first time David visited Japan was when Ziggy was touring for Aladdin Sane (the new album was published exactly in April 1973). Bowie was deeply influenced by your country and probably he was very excited.
MS: At the time, he was not very popular in Japan yet. So he went to Kabuki theatre and visited my office in Harajuku quite freely. He seemed enjoying Japan so much.
Have you visited the David Bowie Is… exhibition in Bologna? What is for you the effect to watch all those David’s items now that he sadly passed away?
MS: Yes, I have. And I went also to the exhibition in London, Paris and Tokyo. They exhibited many things of him regarding not only fashion but also something of daily life. I was simply surprised and impressed by them all.
You were one of the few people to photograph David during his quite 10-years retirement, probably only because you were friends.
MS: I went to NYC for some business meeting in 2009. Then I requested photo session to Bowie management, and he had time. He was a good friend of mine, but I didn’t try to step into his privacy.
What is your favourite track on the album Blackstar?
MS: After all, the song Blackstar.
I think nobody has never asked you: “Is rock your favourite kind of music?”
MS: Yes, it is. But I like jazz as well. Jazz is probably the music that I prefer.
Interview conceived and conducted by Matteo Tonolli (thanks to Aki!)