Tomokazu Matsuyama, Accountable Nature: Long Museum | Shanghai, China
The Long Museum West Bund is pleased to present Accountable Nature, Tomokazu Matsuyama's first solo exhibition in Shanghai, from November 12, 2020 to January 24, 2021. This exhibition will introduce Matsuyama's fundamental notions, which capture the status quo of present-day life and culture in an unembellished manner. The works in the exhibition feature Matsuyama’s extensive range of aesthetic language, from his iconic shaped canvases to sculptures.
Having grown up in a bicultural environment in Japan and the United States, Matsuyama physically represents the urban “one-world” blend of cultures. Joyfully colored canvases, which blend a traditional Japanese color palette with eye-catching fluorescents, render a diverse and ambiguous modern culture, where he splices edited images from broad aesthetic encounters. Matsuyama treats all elements equally, working with a flood of images from East and West, ranging from classical paintings and antique patterns to magazine pin-ups and Internet ads. The process of dismantling and meticulously reconstructing vast amounts of information from across space and time results in objects and patterns that would not ordinarily coexist sharing space. At the same time, compositions that lack nothing and contain nothing extra maintain an exquisite balance. Matsuyama’s visual language is inherent with an editorial process in which mashups and samplings from familiar elements spark viewers to make their own connections, leading to new ideas and narratives. By causing different elements to coexist on a flat surface, Matsuyama challenges contemporary art paradigms and offers each viewer space for new concepts and notions.
Matsuyama’s challenge to paradigms in art is also apparent in his abstraction series. He takes the motif of a paper crane, a representation of gankake (the Japanese custom of praying to a god) and symbolically inserts that icon into his abstractions. By incorporating the idea of superstition into art, a prominent practice in Eastern art excluded in the Western modern art, Matsuyama dismantles the system of abstraction, an art form contextualized by Western authority, in an attempt to deconstruct and reconstruct the very notion of art history itself.
The exhibition title, Accountable Nature, derives from the technical term force majeure, which references natural disasters and unexpected events that are a detriment to the functioning of society and the economy. Usually, when a stable relationship is established between nature and humans, people can enjoy the blessings of nature. However, the occasional rage of nature shakes up this interconnection, causing people to become helpless and even surrender. No one is accountable for any damages caused by the force of nature; even if people would feel unjust. Despite living in the times of uncertainty, what Matsuyama has seen in the present was the power of people continuing to live day by day, hoping for the future and reconstructing their lives. The 7-meter sculpture Nirvana Tropicana embodies that abstract atmosphere in society, and serves as a symbol within this exhibition. Matsuyama states that it is the crucial role of the artist to capture and express the times in which we live. The notion of finding reality in digital experience, such as people learning about real events happening right outside their windows through digital devices, is a good example of boundaries that separate dichotomies are becoming ambiguous and undefined. Matsuyama’s canvases reflect unstable binaries representing our era, such as the natural and digital, real and unreal. The canvases possess a nomadic and utopian characteristic as the result of his unique image editing approach.
While society is beginning to adapt to a “new normal” way of living, Matsuyama’s work poses the question of whether a “reality” in which people find their identity is genuine, and what a “reality” is in the first place.
— Curatorial text courtesy of the Long Museum