For Skin, photographer Yusuke Sakai hones in on the flesh of animals, capturing the minute details of species ranging from the calloused white rhinoceros to the downy king penguin. Happening across a photograph of the belly of an elephant, the artist was struck by the uncanny vantage point, finding the patterns of the skin both recognizable and utterly foreign. In a search to recreate that sense of wonderment, he began visiting zoo animals and photographing their skin, feathers, and fur at close range.
Gazing with reverence upon each animal, he distills their innate animalness into two-dimensional templates, with each wrinkle, mark, and scar alluding to histories both personal to the individual creature and significant to the species. Fixed within a rectangular frame, the animals become formless, removed from the context of the body and simplified into delicate markings and nuanced colors. Here, we become simultaneously alienated from the familiar notion of each animal and more intimately acquainted with them, invited to gaze upon their tender and exposed hyde.
Asiatic black bear
All images © Yusuke Sakai