KOTARO NUKAGA is pleased to announce the opening of our second gallery at Piramide Building Roppongi, Minato City in Tokyo from May 2021. Our first exhibition in this new gallery at KOTARO NUKAGA, Roppongi will be Tomokazu Matsuyama’s solo exhibition “Boom Bye Bye Pain”, from 22 May to 10 July.
The title of Tomokazu Matsuyama’s solo exhibition “Boom Bye Bye Pain” is a combination of two songs called Boom Bye Bye and Pain, by a Reggae Pop musician Buju Banton. When these two songs were released, many discussed this controversial title; a distinctive slang in black music, Boom referred to shooting sound and Bye Bye reminded us what happened after that, and these words were said to have been used for discrimination against gay individuals by the African Americans. The structure of a minority in a metropolis criticizing another minority to fulfill his or her self-affirmation is something that Matsuyama cannot avoid since he made his career in America with the experiences of racial discrimination. Though, paradoxically this Pain was the reality that brought him the feeling of being alive.
I have lived through a competitive environment between minorities to progress my artistic career in New York. I live upon those times. For example, I have been attacked and have had experienced gunpoint in some cases, yet these intense realities were unavoidable in my process of working.
However, these strong experiences are now my assets and have become a driving force that made my vision solid as an artist in New York.
I think the Pain risen between the gaps of various backgrounds, are signs of human life.
This is why I was able to create works whilst facing the core part of humans: the survival of our life.
What does my existence mean? Who am I? Who are we?
In art, the concept of “life and death” is a timeless theme. Defining the meaning of our existence is directly related to our core thesis of life even for us living today. To continue my creation, I have been looking for these meanings of life (which also means reasons to create art). It might hear paradoxical, but the title of this exhibition includes a positive question. I hope this will be a chance to trace the meaning of your existence.
The main artwork of this exhibition Spiracles No Surprises, a painting of a person on a horse with a flag on one hand and another person pointing to the destination, is one of Matsuyama’s major series of equestrian subjects. Historically, equestrian statues and portraits were used as the symbol of the powerful and the rulers, but here, Matsuyama dismantles the authority embedded in this motif and gives a new meaning by using vivid colors and motifs from east to west in all times. The unrealistic and utopian world that surround two people on horseback, raises the question we repeatedly ask ourselves in today’s society where different culture blends and immense information overflows: “Who are we, and where do we go?” Matsuyama has always faced his own identity within the multicultural city, a city where diverse traditional culture coexists, New York. Because he is the minority, he has a perspective that allows him to vibrantly depict our society, by making “we” the subject. This is his creative process that embodies multiculturalism emerged from his real experiences, by strong and free visual.
This exhibition with 15 new pieces, including his masterpieces, will question what is to create, that is to say, what is to live for Matsuyama: “No matter what kind of environment, one must survive. I have been facing this human essence in my art.”