In his fluorescent paintings and prints drawn from eclectic sources that travers time and space, Tomokazu Matsuyama explores globalisation and the complex definitions of identity.Read More
Tomokazu Matsuyama holds an MFA in Communications Design from Pratt Institute, New York (2004), and a BA in economics from Sophia University, Tokyo (2000).
Painting on both conventional and shaped canvases, Matsuyama rearranges visual elements of Japanese Edo- and Meiji-era prints, classical Greco-Roman sculptures, and contemporary art, as well as present-day street art. The artist is also recognised for his large-scale, stainless steel sculptures that reflect the colours of their architectural and urban surroundings.
Tomokazu Matsuyama's diverse citations are in part the result of an upbringing, spent between Japan and the United States, that prompted him to question the fixed notions of national and individual identities. Although the two are presumed to be the same, Matsuyama reveals instances in which an individual may identify with different nations and cultures.
In HONESTLY GONE GOING (2020)—a digital print with screen-printed elements—the artist employs the flatness of ukiyo-e and features plants commonly found in traditional East Asian paintings, such as bamboo and orchids, but renders them in a bold colour palette reminiscent of Pop art. The background—silver against black—similarly shows an elaborate floral pattern that evokes Baroque wallpapers.
Matsuyama's works can be both representational and abstract. In paintings titled Kirin, the artist combines geometric and stylised forms, as well as splatters of colour, against a black or white ground to suggest the eponymous one-horned mythical creature. On the extreme end of abstraction are works such as The Farm Crash (2020), which consists of a cacophony of bright colours, with punctuations in white and black, that may resemble facial features.
Matsuyama has expanded his practice into the public realm with murals and monumental installations. In 2019, he created a 1,300-square-foot mural for the Houston Bowery Wall in New York City's Lower East Side. Wheels of Fortune (2020)—for Tokyo's Meiji Jingu Forest Festival of Art—is a stainless steel sculpture depicting deer antlers merged with a wheel.
Another public project, Hanao-San, was unveiled at Shinjuku station in July 2020 and features a young boy whose body is composed of stainless steel graphic designs that incorporate the four seasons and ancient Japanese visual culture. The work and its surrounding environment provide a space of contemplation in the midst of the large city.
While Matsuyama's stainless steel sculptures appear to lack colour, their mirror surfaces reflect colours from their environment, resembling, in the end, his paintings as the artist told Ocula Magazine in 2021.
Tomokazu Matsuyama has exhibited internationally in solo and group exhibitions.
Solo exhibitions include The Best Part About Us, Kavi Gupta, Chicago (2022); Accountable Nature, The Long Museum Chongqing (2021) and West Bund (2020); __Oh Magic Night, Hong Kong Contemporary Art Foundation, Hong Kong (2017); 17 Hours, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney (2015).
Group exhibitions include Home & Away: Selections From Common Practice, Miles McEnery Gallery, New York (2021); Poofy Wan Wan, Collaborations, Copenhagen (2019); Fixed Contained, KOTARO NUKAGA, Tokyo (2019); Re:define, Dallas Contemporary (2017) and The Goss-Michael Foundation, Dallas (2012); Edo-Pop: The Graphic Impact of Japanese Prints, Japan Society, New York (2013).
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2022