Takesada Matsutani, Drop in Time (2018). © Takesada Matsutani. Courtesy the artust and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Yosuke Kojima.
Hans Ulrich Obrist discusses influences, materials, and trajectories with Takesada Matsutani, a second-generation Gutai protagonist. Throughout his career, Matsutani has continuously developed his voice and discovered new potentials to express the inner subjective dimension. Spanning five decades, Matsutani's work continuously redefined the relation between the artist and the substance of his practice—it has been a discipline against the grain.
HANS ULRICH OBRIST: Let's begin at the beginning and talk about how it all started. How did you come to art?
TAKESADA MATSUTANI: When I was fifteen years old, I developed tuberculosis. At that time there were no medicines, as Japan was not so rich. We realized that if I wanted to go into business, my body would not be strong enough. So I elected for art. I decided before high school that I wanted to be an artist. Then during art school in Osaka, again the tuberculosis came back. I was thinking: What should I do? But my body slowly got better, and by that time there was medicine. Many of my paintings from that time were about sickness or about slowly regaining health, and they were figurative. In high school I studied traditional Japanese art, nihonga. And at that time, in the 1950s, it was the abstract epoch, but I thought Gutai was not art. Impossible! I did figurative work, landscapes and things like that. But I was young, I didn't have enough education. Then slowly, lots of information began coming from Europe and America, in photos and writing. I was influenced, logically, by Wassily Kandinsky, in realizing that art is not a copy of an object or a landscape or whatever. I came to think that there was something inside that I wanted to show.