Landmark public art installation on urban innovation and cultural exchange ln Tokyo

ArtDaily, July 20, 2020

TOKYO.- In collaboration with East Japan Railway Company (JR), Japanese artist Tomokazu Matsuyama launched Shinjuku East Square, an ambitious permanent public art project at the East Exit of JR Shinjuku Station in Tokyo - the world’s busiest station according to the Guinness Book of Records.

Born in Japan and based in New York, Tomokazu Matsuyama is known for his compositional strategies that bring together his cultural heritage with that of his global identity. Much of Matsuyama’s oeuvre exams the intermingling of cultural signifiers and the impact of globalization. His works borrow conventions from sources as diverse as Kano School, a dominant style of painting in Japan from the 15th - 18th centuries, to American pop culture, and styles like Abstract Expressionism; yet they defy traditional interpretation as he repositions them within a shifting world dialogue.

The long-anticipated community art park features an 8-meter-high monumental mirrored sculpture ‘Hanao-San’. Standing proudly in the center, the boy holding a bouquet will be greeting 3.5 million daily passengers on average. The motif concurrently is an ode to the urban history of Shinjuku city, and conceived as a welcoming gesture for connection, communication and unity, especially in this era of extreme division.


Enclosing the boy is graphic inspired land art created with a deep understanding of Japanese heritage, concerning the aesthetics of nature, the four seasons and ancient Japanese culture, and seamlessly blend with the influence of contemporary art. Testament to Matsuyama’s unique artistic language, the flowery graphic patterns appropriated from multiple cultural elements form a visual manifestation of the evolving urban life and global exchange. The static land art enmeshed with the moving images reflected on the sculpture, evoke a timeless visual and spatial experience of the world around us. Walkers are encouraged to linger, converse and meditate, before they disappear into streets of the cosmopolitan city again.

The concept of the space ‘Metro–Bewilder’ is a coined word that encompasses the ideas of the city (‘metro’), nature (‘wild’), and bemusement (‘bewilder’). By conceptualizing those keywords, Matsuyama invents an unorthodox community space with two conflicting elements, ‘metro’ and ‘wild’. The unprecedented design highlights the characters of Shinjuku, an area that is hyper energetic from day to night, “bewildering” people with its duality of elements.

Home to many of Tokyo’s tallest buildings, including the twin towers of the Metropolitan Government office, Shinjuku is simultaneously surrounded by department stores, subterranean malls, innumerable culinary offerings, as well as the lavish nightlife decorated with futuristic neon lights. Seen as the heartbeat of Tokyo, Shinjuku is a must-visit destination for both domestic and international tourists. The project therefore is particularly relevant now. While social distancing will be a norm in the foreseeable future, Shinjuku East Square exemplifies urban landscape innovation that uses art as an anchor to reshape our contemporary experience, in response to human kind’s shared quest for connection.

Tomokazu Matsuyama was born in Japan, 1976, currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He received his MFA in Communications Design from the Pratt Institute. Matsuyama has globally had his exhibitions at various galleries and institutions. His works are in the permanent collection of LACMA, Asian Art Museum, the Royal Family of Dubai, and many more.

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