The artist’s unique visual language forms one of the most pioneering oeuvres to emerge from post-war Japan and is continually celebrated globally. With the online exhibition, ‘Stream’, Ōsaka-born and Paris-based artist Takesada Matsutani presents a series of previously unseen works, alongside a significant body of preparatory drawings, multi-media paintings and lithographs, dating from the 1970s to present day.
Buddhist teachings were a central element in Matsutani’s childhood education, with our existence seen as a constantly changing current. Although he doesn’t consider himself a Zen practitioner in his art, he has felt a profound affinity with the philosophy’s call for a ‘return to the simplicity of everyday experience,’ its rejection of ‘system-based thinking,’ and its emphasis on ‘a constant moment-to-moment praxis.’ In his multifaceted works, Matsutani attempts to stop time, to materialize a suspended moment and acknowledge the repetition and fluidity of everyday life.
Matsutani began creating vast expanses of metallic black graphite on mural-size sheets of paper built up with painstaking individual strokes, commonly known as his Stream series. The successive layers produce a sense of volume through the interplay of shadows and the direction of the pencil strokes, developing a tactility and inner luminosity as seen in the earliest work in the online presentation, ‘Stream 78-1’ (1978) and ‘Stream 99-5’ (1999). This ritualized manner of mark-making has a performative gesture that presents a time-based record reminiscent of Matsutani’s artistic beginnings in Japan.
About the artist
Takesada Matsutani was born in Ōsaka in 1937. He began exhibiting with the Gutai Group in 1960, along with Shūji Mukai and Tsuyoshi Maekawa, and officially joined the group in 1963. In 1966, he received a grant from the French government after winning first prize in the 1st Mainichi Art Competition, and subsequently moved to Paris where he continues to live and work today.