Sunday, June 23, 2024

Juxtapoz Journal – Tomokazu Matsuyama’s Episodes Removed from House


For those who might learn a sample like a web page in a guide, the intricate textiles and wallpapers in Tomokazu Matsuyama’s work would converse volumes. Vibrant motifs crowd the dense, graphical surfaces of his works, forming backyard vistas or intimate boudoirs. Their origins are eclectic: a luscious floral is likely to be drawn from a print by nineteenth century British designer William Morris or from an Edo Interval kimono. In a mattress of crops from divergent climes, an empty Sapporo bottle and a Starburst wrapper lie just like the detritus of globalisation. A portrait impressed by {a photograph} of French couturier Christian Dior, in the meantime, bears the golden prospers of a counterfeit Hermes scarf that Matsuyama purchased in New York’s garment district. Accomplished on dynamically formed canvases, these work take their compositional cues from Grand Method portraits or pastorals within the pre-modern European custom, whereas their use of skewed views and absence of shading recall the flat planes of Japanese woodblock prints generally known as ukiyo-e. Signifiers of East and West are willfully scrambled right here, as are renditions of the ‘actual’ and the ‘faux.’ In Matsuyama’s work, as together with his personal diasporic id, such variations are shaky social constructions.

Matsuyama was born in Takayama, Japan and moved to New York in 2000 at age 25. Within the Massive Apple, he encountered the work of road artists like Keith Haring and enrolled at Pratt Institute to check graphic design. This may occasionally clarify the graphic high quality of his work – at the very least as a lot because the affect of the Japanese pictorial custom. On the time, he had few venues to exhibit his self-taught work save the naked partitions of business buildings alongside the Brooklyn waterfront, together with in Greenpoint, the place his studio stays in the present day. The language of road artwork was stylistically formative, however it additionally formed Matsuyama’s dedication to the general public realm.

The 2000s have been a time when Japanese artwork actions corresponding to Simulationism and Superflat achieved international recognition, and Matsuyama was typically confronted by the expectation that he ship a recognisably anime-indebted type. Refusing to be decreased to cultural stereotypes, he selected as a substitute to subvert them: the imagery in his work, then and now, filters influences from European and American artwork historical past via Japan and again once more, so their origins might be tough to pin down. Collaging parts from style and residential décor magazines into compositions derived from the Western canon, he then provides layers of patterns from a variety of sources – lots of them drawn from his private archive of historic textiles – that act as a type of dazzle camouflage. Cloaked in these designs, his alluringly inexpressive figures withhold loads of secrets and techniques.

In relation to patterns, hardened notions of possession and appropriation have been out of date since at the very least the sixteenth century, when Dutch merchants introduced wax prints to West Africa, Polynesia, and Japan. In our period of heightened worldwide commerce and digital info trade, cultural sampling happens at an ever-increasing charge. Matsuyama’s personal dialogue between East and West recollects the transformational affect of ukiyo-e on European Impressionism by tracing their journey in reverse. The result’s a syncretism that speaks to Matsuyama’s personal trajectory as a worldwide citizen and, in flip, embodies the postmodern situation. 

Over the previous a number of years, Matsuyama has expanded his engagement with public house by growing his graphical universe in three dimensions. Main sculptural commissions, together with works for New York’s Madison Sq. Park and Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station, understand the contour traces of his work in mirror-polished stainless-steel. Every aircraft is torqued on an axis, so the themes rendered have a way of steady movement. As one circumnavigates their mirrored surfaces, struggling to assemble their constituent components, the mirrored environs additional resist the logic of the attention. These sculptures are anti-monuments, completely suited to an age when statues world wide are being pulled off their plinths. 

Like his work, Matsuyama’s sculptures additionally refuse to stick to anybody narrative. The patterns that inform their metal armatures, and that are typically powder-coated alongside their edges, are designed to maintain us guessing. In any case, id is itself a type of a sample language – an accumulation of gestures and appearances that society trains us to acknowledge. If we resist such reductive readings of race and tradition, Matusyama reminds us, we’ll as a substitute see the world for all its dazzling complexity. — Evan Moffitt, author, editor and critic


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