Tomoya Matsuzaki

Unmapped Territory

September 8 – 22, 2021

There is a dull contrast between the overcast sky and the bluish-gray sea. The wind bellows against my ears. The paint has peeled off the exterior walls of the large white hotel reminiscent of a port town in the Mediterranean, and its iron fixtures, exposed to the salty breeze that drifts from the sea, have rusted here and there. While it may be sunny when going out, one would regret it later if having left without an extra layer to wear. Even though it is the middle of summer, one does not feel liberated and in open spirits. One walks along the shore with shoes on so as not to hurt one’s feet on the rough and rugged stones. One collects shells and small pebbles with holes that takes one’s fancy, and puts them in one’s pocket.


Children, whose lips have turned purple, swim up onto the shore, their bodies quivering. The water is cold. Even so, people go into the sea. Perhaps it is to boast to others how long they have managed to remain immersed in it. An elderly man mutters, "put on some shoes, proper shoes" as he passes by a tourist walking along in their flip-flops and fluorescent shorts. An amusement arcade lit with bright neon lights stands along the main street facing the coast, and while it appears to give rise to a lively atmosphere, there is no one to be seen. If one were to one walk along the shore while eating something in hand, ferocious seagulls would swoop down in attack.


There are no shadows in this country. Well, to be precise, everything is overcast. The world, illuminated by the light that reaches through the thin filter of clouds, is pale and faint. The history of painting is regional. The weather affects a person's mood. A person’s mood is reflected in the colors. Colors are in contradistinction. Landscapes are a manifestation of one’s emotion. The landscape you are looking at is the place where you now find yourself in. Landscapes are not all about panoramic views of nature and manmade structures sandwiched between the ground and the sky. Each and every fragment from the micro to the macro –the sea’s waters, the elderly man, and the rusted iron– are all equally part of a single bustling amalgam. The boundaries between them are fluttering and ambiguous, and for me, the landscape is the experience of these things.



Tomoya Matsuzaki moved to the UK in 1997, and has since been based in London. Matsuzaki, having lived and produced work in the UK for many years, discovered a connection between the genealogy of British painting (in particular the St Ives school, which developed remarkable activities in the port city of St Ives in the southwestern part of England from the 1920s to the 1960s) and selection of colors employed in his recent oeuvre. Furthermore, he arrived at the realization that the weather in England and the emotional exchanges with the people who live there may also have an effect on his artistic practice of late. Continuing to live in the UK as an immigrant, Matsuzaki confronts the unseen class-consciousness that is present within British society as well as the history of art that has developed in line with such values, with an objective and humorous gaze (for further details, please refer to Tomoya Matsuzaki’s serial essay “C.L.A.S. (S)” featured on the “Chic” website). That being said, the landscapes that have become ingrained upon the artist over the years of him living there (landscape, in Matsuzaki’s words, as not something that is visually perceived, but an abstract thing that is generated through the sensations one receives in that particular place), have also undoubtedly presented an influence on his work. It can be said that there is a painterly space that can only be created by Matsuzaki, who, while living as an immigrant and a stranger in this class society, is indeed present within this very landscape. Matsuzaki adds that 20th century British art history does not have the glamor and floridity of other countries, but rather seems to be underpinned by a certain lackluster dullness akin to a typical cloudy British sky. Shadows that remain overlooked due to the constant overcast of clouds (one could say that shadows, in essence, are created through the presence of light), and shadows that do not even exist within people’s awareness (conversely leading to the nihilism that there is nothing but shadow), are reversely transcribed into the landscape, giving rise to a somewhat melancholic “mental scenery.” The exhibition features a succession of works painted on both sides of thick plaster slabs made by Matsuzaki himself, which present a variety of expressions in accordance to the place from which they are viewed. What kind of landscape will such space convey to viewers?


This exhibition is a lead-up to two exhibitions scheduled for 2022: Tomoya Matsuzaka’s solo exhibition, and his two-person show with UK-based artist Anne Hardy who has received high acclaim for her numerous sculptural installation works.

Photo: Alastair Levy