Artist Interview: Miki Matsuyama

Four You Gallery
August 25, 2020

FYG: What would you say your artistic background is?
MM: When I was young, my favorite subject in school was art. I loved creating something with my hands, especially with a brush. I grew up watching my grandmother paint and I also learned Japanese flower arrangement “Ikebana” from her. I actually gained understanding of space from learning Ikebana because it’s a lot about of compositions; it’s not just about flowers but it’s also about the space you leave empty. Even after she has passed away, painting with her art supplies and studio is also a way to remember her.

FYG: Are there key themes in your work?
MM: As an aspiring interior designer, current themes for my artwork include “interior design compositions” from notable designers. Recreating their designs from a photo onto a canvas allows me to study the space in detail, particularly colors and textures. In the future, it would be nice if I could alter the steps; instead of transferring the design from space on to canvas, I will be transferring my imagination of design on canvas into a physical space of reality.

FYG: What is your creative process when you’re painting?
MM: My creative process starts when I’m gathering inspirations. Whether I’m flipping through magazines or scrolling down my “Explore” page on Instagram, I collect as many design contents I’m attracted to. When I’m turning those images into my artwork, I truly feel I am studying the space at the same time.

FYG: How do you know when a piece is finished?
MM: The piece is finished when I feel like the piece is finished. I’m not sure how else I can explain it.

Miki Matsuyama-Cy Twombly's Home in Rome, 2020-Acrylic canvas-112 x 145.5cm

FYG: What is your favorite piece you’ve created?
MM: My favorite piece I have created thus far is “1910 Belgian House designed by Pierre Yovanovitch”.
I adore the color combination of navy and pastel pink; those are my favorite colors. I love the idea of big sofa that surrounds the center. The tall European style windows are breezy and a large artwork looks almost as transparent in the center, due to its strong white color, and yet has so much texture to it when facing the wall. Sometimes even with a design I love, I’m not satisfied with a painting if I feel that I couldn’t exactly interpret the space as I wanted to. In the same way, some spaces are not particularly my favorite eventually become one of the best pieces when transposed on a canvas. “1910 Belgian House designed by Pierre Yovanovitch” is my favorite design that I was able to interpret perfectly the way I intended to.

Miki Matsuyama-1910 Belgian House Designed by Pierre Yovanovitch, 2020-Acrylic canvas-130.3 x 162 cm

FYG: Who are your biggest inspirations?
MM: When I think about my artistic influences, I sometimes get lost between my roots and what I admire. The interior design scene in Japan is very different of that in Europe or America. Although I live in Tokyo now, most of my current inspirations are based abroad because I guess I want things I don’t have (I guess it’s the same way for westerners to think that certain elements of an/all Asian culture is cool or attractive because it is so different). Furthermore, on daily basis, I am exposed to much more western-related content, whether it’s from Instagram or magazines.
It may have become that way because I choose to; I choose what I follow on Instagram and I pick these specific magazines from the many bookshelf I browse in international bookstores in Tokyo. Furthermore, this may also derive from the fact that I find myself more at ease at reading English than Japanese. I’ve realized that a large portion of my influences can be traced back to Western designers/artists and I must admit that at times, I can feel both content but also frustrated. I say frustrated because I feel that, at times, I am pulled into that direction without realizing it, and thus I am pulling myself away from my roots. Then again, we look about at art history and specifically “Japonisme”, it is evident that artists have been influenced by one and another through not only centuries but geographies as well. In a small sense, I feel like I am traversing the same experience; I identify to one geography and culture, yet I seemingly become inspired by others.
My favorite interior designer and inspiration is Pierre Yovanovitch. His designs blends simplicity and high end/luxury feel in an unpretentious setting. I have many inspirational artists and many are the old masters of the likes of Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Picasso, etc. Maybe I like them because I like everything classic even when it comes to fashion or furniture pieces; or maybe because of the fact that we are taught that they are the great artists of history. However, I think there is a reason why they became the greatest artist. My style may not necessary be artistic as theirs is considered, but I do learn from them. When I was living in Paris for a year, I would go to museums at least once a day; I cherished these moments as my little gateway to the art world.

FYG: How do you strike the balance between being an artist and being an interior designer?
MM: Being an interior designer, I have to deliver creative works that tailors to my client. Commercial design must satisfy customers and residential design must satisfy the people living in the space. As an artist, I have creative freedom; I can create whatever I want to, whenever I want to. It doesn’t necessarily need to satisfy anyone except myself. I’m not saying that I prefer being one or the other, I enjoy being creative to satisfy people as well as to satisfy my own desires; that’s why I do both.

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