Joshua Liner Gallery is pleased to present Glancing at the Twin Peak, an exhibition of new paintings, sculpture and installation by the New York-based Japanese artist Tomokazu Matsuyama.This is the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.
Working in acrylic on canvas or paper,Tomokazu Matsuyama creates paintings that embrace his cultural roots with a distinctive contemporary playfulness. Influenced by both the austerity of postwar contemporary art and the unbridled extravagance of Japanese and American popular culture,Matsuyama challenges conventional ideas about cultural homogeneity, contradicting notions of “Japaneseness.”
With Glancing at the Twin Peak, the artist makes reference to two titans of Japanese and American culture, respectively—Sanraku Kano and Frederic Remington. A master of the influential Kano school of painting in the late sixteenth century, Kano depicted riders on horseback in iconic images of masculinity that typified the era. Likewise, Remington, celebrated for his hypermasculine paintings of “cowboys and Indians,” spoke for a young nation coming of age at the end of the nineteenth century.
As the stunning centerpiece of the exhibition,Matsuyama’s 7-x-15-foot mixed-media painting Runnin’Deep synthesizes these two strains of nationalist identity into a vibrant contemporary amalgam. Riding across a snowy terrain, the artist’s “cowboys” are distinctly Japanese in appearance, while their steeds bear the artist’s colorful, stylized approach to animal forms. Similarly,Matsuyama transforms Remington’s signature bronze, The Bronco Buster, into his own stylized likeness. His two-meter-tall fiberglass sculpture,Wherever I Am, depicts a bucking horse reined in by a Playmobil-style toy figure with Asian features.
Born in Japan and later immigrating to the United States,Matsuyama’s bicultural upbringing figures prominently in his style and subject matter.The mythical, shape-shifting Kirin appears often; the creature is updated with a bouncy, kaleidoscopic abstractness, creating a pictorial dimension where ancient tales and contemporary visual design can intermingle.Appropriating fromWestern modern art history, as well as Japanese art from the Edo and Meiji eras, the artist mixes traditional icons and imagery onto a broader international canvas, including elements of Superflat, digital design, contemporary collage, and other current trends and practices.The intention, says Matsuyama, is “to blend what are considered Eastern andWestern aesthetics into one that resists categorizationand cultural belonging.My work is equally pending between worlds that are not completely blended but instead still a patchwork of controlled chaos trying to evolve into something close to cosmopolitanism.”
Tomokazu Matsuyama was born 1976 in Tokyo, Japan, and currently lives and works in New York City.He received an MFA in Communications Design from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Solo exhibitions include: Polarize, FIFTY24SF Gallery, San Francisco (2007); Between the Polar,Takuro Someya Contemporary Art,Chiba, Japan (2007); among others. Selected group exhibitions include:What’s so Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding?, Esso Gallery, New York (2008); Piece of Peace, Parco Gallery,Tokyo (2008); Living Lines, J Flynn Gallery,Costa Mesa,CA (2007). Matsuyama’s first monograph, Found Modern Library,was published in 2007 by Gingko Press. His second monograph published by Panorama in Japan will release later this year.
Tomokazu Matsuyama in Emirates Business News - Art Dubai (March 17, 2009)
Tomokazu Matsuyama opening reception (March 7, 2009)
Tomokazu Matsuyama releases a new 35-color screen print entitled ‘Kirin’ (February 19, 2009)
Tomokazu Matsuyama interview (September 25, 2008)