THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN
“Painting is landscape” – vibration generated by the fusion of various ones.
We tend to see a landscape in every figure. Spots or scratches on a wall, irregular lines in a tea cup created by the enamel on it, each thing looks like a landscape to us. It is, in a certain sense, a vice of man. But we should not pay too much attention to it.
Also here I see a landscape: a long outline of mountains, higher peaks out of focus in the distance. In the foreground, the surface of varied layers full of detail. Our eyes enjoy with satisfaction and the mind opens with great liberty. Up to this point we’re talking about software, that is to say, what is aroused by the figures. The rest has to do with hardware: what is evoked by such visions. The thing that is in front of me is, in reality, a piece of iron. What looks like mountains in earth tones is instead a rust stain. Over there where I see the sky, is an area covered with layers of paper and painted with watercolor. The rough texture of the rust and the sensation of the stratified and hardened paper give a “tactile sphere” to this work.
The battle between two completely different materials: iron and paper. The battle between colors which penetrate from the upper layer and those which emerge from the lower layer. And still another battle between a natural phenomenon, corrosion. and painting which is a human intervention. In this work, you can feel the battle between the various disciplines which exist contemporarily, generating a landscape full of vibrations which give rise to an extraordinary sense of peace. Here, different elements echo among themselves while maintaining their diversity. Shuhei Matsuyama reflects: “This is what I wanted to create. I had a dream of expressing the synergy between different things: between hard and soft, between west and east.” The artist has chosen a single title, “Shin-on”, for all the works he has created in these years. He has lived and worked in Italy for 25 years, and explains he has finally realized that his objective is to create the expression of “ki” (atmosphere, energy):
“In the period when I studied painting in Perugia, my eyes often came to rest on spots on the walls while I walked through the city. Those spots spoke to me. I wondered what it meant. It was an energy that was speaking to me. I feel the same type of energy emanating from ancient incised designs in rocks found in northern Italy. As for the rust, usually we have the idea of something negative, undesired, which signals the end of things. However, faced with such an irrepressible proliferation of its earth tones, it’s not possible to not perceive the energy, the sensation of something’s beginning, something which is being born in front of your eyes. I hope that also my works vibrate in a similar way, welling up from within the heart. This is in fact the meaning of SHIN-ON. In Japanese it can mean various concepts of sound or vibration, depending on the ideograms used: the sound of the heart, the sound of vibration, the sound of the body, the sound of truth, and so on. There can be infinite combinations of ideograms – in other words, concepts – but perhaps the thing I’m searching for is a universe which begins with one blow from nothing with a great rush of energy (ki)”.
Along side his artistic creation, Shuhei Matsuyama has been involved for years in karate and is a fourth dan black belt in the Shotokan school; he is a master and trains a hundred students in Milan. At the beginning, he wasn’t aware of the bond between the two disciplines. Painting and karate were two completely different, distant worlds, but after years of training, today Matsuyama recognizes a certain influence of karate in his art. For example, “sun-dome”, the concept of stopping a blow just before striking the adversary surely has exerted influence on the energetic concentration of movement with which he executes his painting.
Matsuyama has determination and does not hesitate in the face of uncertainty and he has always chosen to move forward. His success is also due to this boldness which has fascinated many people in Italy. He has found a fertile environment and he says, “In Japan, one always makes comparisons with others, but here it is important to be unique, yourself, and that’s all.” For him, Italy is the land of people who try and mature with time, and with work. It is the land of “positive” people.
by Kiyoshi AKUTAGAWA
Translate by Yosuke TAKI