Within the field of research that I make an effort to show those interested in looking at also the… artistic aspect of art, it would seem an oversight to not take into consideration a school which is so different from our own as is the Japanese school. It is based on a culture and society which permits points of view and considerations which are completely different from ours, and thus of great interest for a wider cultural vision for those who love to know and to be informed. Even its language, style of dialogue among people, and writing are artistic form; the innumerable ceremonial rules which accompany the life of the Japanese, rules which always have other hidden meanings which, in turn, originate from a series of reasons; rules that do not change despite the fact that Japan is today perhaps the most futuristic country in the world from the point of view of environmental solutions and social organization, but rather the rules are jealously protected because they are an essential, undeniable part of the soul of this civilization which is so advanced and so conservative at the same time; the way to stand before a problem, an event; the teaching of history, the approach to nature, the sacredness of work, etc. All these together make Japan the symbol of philosophical tranquility, of fineness of gesture, of Zen sophistication. Therefore it is clear that the artistic expression of a Japanese person represents something different from that of an Italian or a Swede. Naturally, this is also true for Chinese or Indian art, for which I hope one day to have the opportunity to present something interesting. That way, I would be able to respect my initial idea when I opened up this space, which was to make, above all, culture, because art is a cultural fact and, independently from all the related interests, it must always be considered as such if one wants to truly love it and understand it.

And so, here I am with a well considered Japanese artist. An artist who divides his existence between his country, which he represents perfectly for culture and tradition, and ours. A man with whom I have always enjoyed conversing with because his “being” is completely different from mine which is so infernally impatient, pragmatic, and “western”, and this creates particular interest for me not only for the artist but also for the man.

In order to speak about the work of Shuhei Matsuyama it would be necessary, first of all, to advise one to not stop at the simple visual impression, the emotion of the work considered as an end unto itself, as would (or could) be logical according to our rule that a work of art shouldn’t contain messages. I say this because the first impression, for a westerner, comes directly, as happened for me, from a completely aesthetic judgment of the work. And this is a big mistake because in these works the mark, the color derive from literary, poetic, philosophic matrices. We are in front of a mass of water that if it is still means one thing, if it is slightly moving means another, and if it has visible movement means still another. And all the different meanings can change depending on the direction of the movement, the intensity of the color of the mass, and so on. It is a very sophisticated running after things that are still, immobile throughout time, but that cannot be caught because, otherwise, they would be too logical, and so this running after is drawn and marked until it is possible to plot a possible connotation for our limited senses. Thus, it is natural, for people like us who do not possess an oriental sense of observation, to limit the whole thing to the emotion that comes through our eyes. Here we have a sound, Shin-on, that has its sources thousands of years ago, a sound that none of us evidently has ever heard, but that is born and exists and continues into the infinite, and today is reinforced by the new sound of these works. Which of these sounds, all of which are expressed with the same phonetic Shin-On, emanates from these works? Isn’t it maybe Shin-On the sound of the heart, or maybe the true sound; perhaps the fluctuating sound or deep sound, or the sound of the gods?. How many sounds does Shin-On express in this language that seems harsh in its pronunciation but speaks of situations of extreme poetry? Ten? Twenty?; the number is not important. Because everything has a sound for an oriental: a drawing, a stone, a tree, a star and a sunset all have a sound. At the first enunciation of Shin-On, there is a series of clarifications until the right one is identified: this is the uniquely Japanese way to investigate and why in these works the origin of the sound is theoretically present; the sound can be seen, even heard.

But for us it is different. I think it will be difficult for us to enter into an atmosphere which is so without materialism because our western soul finds it hard to walk without our usual points of reference, we are frightened by emotional rarefaction and so we are content to stay with what before I called a mistake, because at least it permits us to appreciate the unquestionable artistic qualities of our artist. We will hold the oriental meanings of these works inside ourselves and, if we hung one in our homes, every once in a while we would “listen” to it to try and understand the secrets of the sounds, Shin-On, that they express. Because these sounds do exist: absolutely and without a doubt. I have had extremely long and equally interesting explanations regarding this, and I hope you will forgive me if I do not refer them in these few lines, because I should have written a book about it, and not simple a presentation…

by Enrico Gariboldi