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景 Scenery 07-12
Ken Matsubara
[Painting]
Item Number:A14962
"When the ability to express emotion was acquired, that is when man became human. I would like to get back to this starting point. If my paintings strike a sympathetic chord with, and awaken nostalgia in the back of a viewer’s mind, it will be my pleasure as an artist." - Ken Matsubara

Ippodo gallery is pleased to announce - Distillation - Japanese painter Ken Matsubara’s solo exhibition which opens on May 12. Ken Matsubara (b. 1948) is a Japanese painter. He was born in Kamiimachi, Toyama Prefecture, Japan. The Toyama is close to the Japanese Alps, so he has been surrounded by mountains since he was born. Now he spends his time using earth from the outdoors to recreate nature indoors, living and working in Nasu, Tochigi prefecture.

“When memory and reality combine, the seeds overflow and scenery is born,” says Matsubara. Deeply treasuring his relationship with the natural world, Matsubara travels through the mountains and plains of the Nasu district to collect materials infused in his work. The artist grinds his own pigments from the earth, sourcing different colors of soil to mix with charcoal and bengala, a red iron oxide. The technique is systematic but the result is serene, and his valleyand mountain paintings blend pleasantly in a variety of settings.

With a playful smirk on his face and a skullcap on his head, Matsubara methodically sources materials outdoors, grinds pigments by hand, and prepares his washed canvasses. Although he uses brushes to gesso and glue the canvasses, the subject matter only evolves with spritzes of water, allowing the grit of the dirt-based pigments to stick to the glue in a natural formation.

When Matsubara had a chance to fly over Mount Fuji and view the mountain from above, he felt profoundly that the mountains were sculpted by water, so he paints them using only careful direction of fluid. The result mimics nature itself, like lines in the soil from a river, or rings and bark breaks on a tree. He almost always paints outside during the daytime, to bask in the light of the sun and view the paintings in their purest form.

In the summer, Japan’s climate is hot and humid. Matsubara's works with bright sun, thriving on his own energized spirit as well. When snow falls on white-capped mountains, the landscape is quiet, with just the sound of ice melting. Air is brisk, and while the climate is harder when working with water, Matsubara's spirit is purified. His work changes depending on the season.

The simplicity of the line nevertheless has a contemporary feel, evoking the minimalistic calligraphic work often seen in other artistic movements. On the one hand, the work is incredibly unique in subject and media, yet the universality of the line on the other compels viewers previously unfamiliar with Matsubara’s innovative style.

Matsubara has shown extensively in Japan, but rarely outside his home country. This is first exhibition in the United States, and the first abroad since his 2006 Exhibition of Ken Matsubara, which toured Paris and Cologne.

Ippodo Gallery has been actively seeking artists who depict nature through unusual methods, making powerful statements about the awe-inspiring beauty and sometimes danger that nature can bring humanity. This aesthetic appreciation for the natural world manifests with inspired living artists, and proves to be an exciting development for the direction of contemporary Japanese art overall.


***Click to watch the film of Ken Matsubara's process of making! ***



The Process of Painting by Ken Matsubara from Shoko Aono on Vimeo.

About the Artist
Treasuring communication with nature above all else, Matsubara travels around the mountains and plains of the Nasu district, collecting colored earths that he then mixes with acrylic resin to produce his paints.
His paintings of the moon or natural landscapes blend with the modern lifestyle in a pleasant fashion.


1948 Born in Toyama Prefecture
1973 Dokuritsu Bijyutsu exhibition, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

Record of Awards
1977 Dai-ichi Bijyutsu Award at the Dai-ichi Bijyutsu Exhibition,
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Tokyo
1979 Prefectural Assembly Chairman Award at Kanagawa Prefectural Art
Exhibition, Kanagawa Prefectural Gallery in Kanagawa
1987 Special Honorable Prize at Ueno Royal Museum Grand Prize Exhibition,
Ueno Royal Museum in Tokyo
Silver Award at INF International Art Exhibition in Kobe, Japan and China
1988 Ceramic Art Award at the Contemporary Ceramic Art Maquette Exhibition,
Toki City Bunka Plaza in Gifu
Excellence Award at the Contemporary Ceramic Art Exhibition,
Toki City Bunka Plaza in Gifu

Exhibitions / Events
1979 Japan-France Contemporary Art Exhibition, Grand Palais in Paris,
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, and Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art
Kanagawa Prefectural Art Exhibition, Kanagawa Prefectural Gallery
in Kanagawa
1987 Ueno Royal Museum Grand Prize Exhibition,
Ueno Royal Museum in Tokyo
Tokyo Exhibition, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Tokyo
1989 Japanese Today’s Visual Art Exhibition in Barcelona, Spain
1990 Exhibition for Leading Artists of the Next Generation,
Hakone Open-Air Museum in Kanagawa
2001 Tochigi Prefecture 20th Century Art, Tochigi Museum of Fine Arts
2006 Ken Matsubara Exhibition around Paris to Cologne (France, Germany)
2008 Shoujyou-ruten solo exhibition, Museum of Modern Art, Toyama
2015 Ken Matsubara KEI, Ginza Ippodo Gallery
2016 Solo exhibition ' Distillation ', Ippodo Gallery New York

and others.

Public Collections and Institutions
1987 Ueno Royal Museum in Tokyo
1990 Choanji Temple in Kanagawa
1991 The Museum of Modern Art, Toyama
1995 Kasama Inari Shrine in Ibaraki
1996 Toyama City Theater for Performing Arts (Aubade Hall) in Toyama
1999 Rakuhouji Temple (Amabiki-kannon) in Ibaraki
Hotel Okura (Tokyo / Fukuoka)
2006 Shogakuji Temple in Ibaraki
2012 Nasu Red Cross Hospital in Tochigi

and others.


The Process of Painting by Ken Matsubara from Shoko Aono on Vimeo.