Hong Kong Contemporary Art Foundation (HOCA) proudly announces its first landmark exhibition of 2017 “Oh Magic Night”, the inaugural institutional solo-exhibition of Japanese-American artist Tomokazu Matsuyama in Hong Kong. The exhibition will survey Matsuyama’s artistic development, anchored by themes of mythological guardians, fictional tableaux and ornate abstraction. The exhibition, timed to coincide with Art Basel in Hong Kong, will run from 19 March – 9 April 2017 at Shop B104 - Shop 305, The Pulse (No. 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong), and presents over 50 works including a new life-sized mirrored sculpture composition inspired by Frederic Remington’s bronze sculpture from 1905 titled “The Old Dragoons of 1850.”
Drawing on the artist’s personal experience of hybrid identities, Matsuyama repositions his childhood cultural history with that of his global identity. Bringing a bicultural approach to his subject matter and artistic style, Matsuyama’s body of work reflects a strategic adoption
of Eastern and Western motifs, a conscious and introspective response to his upbringing and the impact of globalization on cultural identity.
Celebrated for interweaving the canons of East and West, Matsuyama’s oeuvre defies traditional categorization. In the tradition of pop art, his work addresses the dichotomy of high and low art, and speaks to the populist notion of contemporary urban culture. Yet identifiable elements of pop culture are coupled with references to historical masters of both spheres. Obvious influences from the high-brow Kano school, a dominant style of painting in Japan from the 15th – 18th centuries, seamlessly blend with homage to American styles of painting such as Abstract Expressionism, and decorative motifs drawn from notable Western fashion and interior designs.
Testament to Matsuyama’s unique visual language, exhibiting works such as Still Growin’ Up based upon the composition of a ukiyo-e print created in Meiji 30 (1897) by Rosetsu, renders the essence of classical Asian art under contemporary Western sensibilities, redrawing them with fictional landscapes and components. For his sculpture series Bon Voyage, the artist appropriates Buddhist iconography embedded with popular cultural references. Wooden sculptures reminiscent of celestial figures, reveal ‘I ♥ NY’ and ‘Micky Mouse’ silhouettes on their chest. This subtle, playful appropriation of multiple cultural influences consistent of Matsuyama’s oeuvre, is an embodiment of global exchange and a visual manifestation of the fragmentation characteristic of contemporary experience.
The title of the solo exhibition, which sounds like o-maji-nai in Japanese, meaning good luck charm, reflects the dual meaning of his practice, and attempts to reveal the cultural allusions embedded in his work, while encouraging viewers to contemplate assumptions of hierarchy and homogeneity in our postcolonial society. HOCA Foundation’s presentation of “Oh Magic Night” is particularly relevant to Hong Kong, an immersive context where multiplicity is deeply rooted in the city’s cultural make-up. Through the exhibition, HOCA hopes to stimulate access to contemporary art, providing a meaningful platform to foster creative thought, generate new ideas, and cultivate layered identities.