Edo Pop - Interview with Tomokazu Matsuyama by Japanese Society NYC

May 18, 2013

Edo Pop: The Graphic Impact of Japanese Prints




Tomokazu Matsuyama - interview (b. 1976, Japan; lives in New York, USA) http://matzu.net/ I don't remember when I became interested in ukiyo-e prints, but it was after I moved to New York that I came across them and was moved by depictions of mundane scenes in ukiyo-e landscapes and also by the graffiti-like quality of Kuniyoshi's work. I felt so close to those artists from over 250 years ago who had the guts to go against the norm of authorities and social conventions. I started to collect ukiyo-e prints, particularly the ones dating to the end of Edo to early Meiji periods (1868--1912). I see ukiyo-e as a means of communication, its function as an informative medium, and one of the ingredients I use in my work.


I have been most influenced by street artists like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Living in New York, I believe my role as an artist is to create something with a visual impact that is accessible to everyone, and yet, that relates to my cultural background. Instead of following one style of art or art movement, I want to mix different visual vocabularies, including ukiyo-e, street art, Pop Art, Abstract Expressionism, and so on, in my work.


I also wondered, as a figurative painter, how much of a narrative I have to embed in my work, or if I can create a painting completely devoid of any meaning but still impactful as a pure painting. That is why I try to make faces as flat in expression as possible. In other words, I am consciously creating an abstract situation in my work. http://www.japansociety.org