Friday, November 17, 2006

Art Space Talk: Hiroshi Matsushita

I recently interviewed artist Hiroshi Matsushita. Mr. Matsushita strives to create paintings that demand the viewer to think about modern day issues. He utilizes an expressive manner of painting in order to give life to his thoughts about society and the nature of humans.

This focus on social commentary is prevalent in his work. Poverty, government control, and self-destruction are just a few of the themes that can be observed in his images. The end result is a body of art that is visually interesting and intellectually stimulating.

Mr. Matsushita has stated that he is inspired by surrealism and pop art. He has discovered his artistic direction by drawing inspiration from music, film, and advertising. This experimentation has allowed Mr. Matsushita to develop a unique style that is perfect for expressing his social views.

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "I’ve always drawn for as long as I can remember, when I was young I used to copy characters from comic books and try to create my own. I’ve had periods through my teens when I didn’t pick up a pencil for years but I always go back."

Q. How has creating art shaped you professionally and personally?

A. "I think if I didn’t create art I would go mad. When the world around me is falling apart I lock myself away and paint. I feel like I’m leaving my mark on the world and it makes me feel better about myself. I’m not saying people will be looking at my work in hundreds of years but at least I’m trying."

Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "I like to think that my work is surreal pop art and my idea of that is to take surrealism and base each piece on modern day events. I don’t get out much, in fact I’d go as far as saying I’m a recluse. This is through my own choice and I believe it’s possible in our time to never leave the house. So I tend to watch a lot of TV, lots of news and documentaries and the world we live in is just a crazy place so I try to paint what I see."

Q. What are your artistic influences? Has anyone inspired you?

A. "I didn’t grow up in an artistic family so there were no books around but I remember seeing a Dali print when I was in my teens and being blown away. The Surreal movement from then on was my main point of reference but I have also embraced other forms over the past few years, mainly pop art. I’m also inspired by poster art, Russian and German from the Second World War. Also I have to say probably my biggest influence was LSD and Magic Mushrooms, when I was younger I experimented a lot with hallucinogenics and it really does open doors in your mind. I haven’t touched drugs for a long time but they have made a lasting effect."

Q. Does your cultural background play a part in your art?

A. "This probably brings me back to the world being a crazy place. England in 2006 is a strange place to live and influences me greatly. There are so many things wrong with it but it’s still great at the same time and I could never see myself living anywhere else. Britain is a cultural melting pot and produces so much talent it’s frightening."

Q. How long have you been a working artist?

A. "That’s a tough question to answer because I still don’t make enough money from my art alone. I often work as a freelance designer which is OK but I see it as taking up valuable time that I could be painting but technology lets me do it from my own home so I can’t complain."

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "I seem to get the best response from women which I find strange. Over the last couple of years I have had a number of female students base a part of their art degree on my work but very rarely do I get contacted by or sell to men."

Q. Discuss one of your pieces. What were you thinking when you created it? (Image above)

A. "The Modern Crucifixion – I pick this one because this relates to previous questions about society. In the UK we have celebrity magazines and all they do is bitch and rip these people apart. So many people form their opinions based on what they read so this piece basically is saying we nurture talent and then when it gets too big we crucify them and rip them to pieces. To me this is the modern crucifixion."

Q. What is your artistic process?

A. "I have 2 ways of imagining a piece, the first is the complete picture will come to me in a dream and I just have to sketch it down before I forget. The second is when I get a bit stuck as to what to paint next, I will just sit for about an hour sketching until something will come to me."

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "Simply because they were the only tools lying around the house and from then on I have stuck with it. If I can make more time I plan on exploring new mediums."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how has it helped your art career?

A. "I wasn’t privileged enough to further my education, I’m not saying my family was flat broke but my parents wanted me to work straight after school, and as always art college is seen as a complete waste of time to some. If I can make more money from my art I would like to take some time out and maybe get a degree but it’s not important now."

Q. Where can we see more of your art?

A. "My work is all over the web, last time I looked there were 160 sites showing some of my work. The best place to see it though is my own site Keep a look out for some site updates shortly, I plan on adding some screensavers and desktop pictures. I may also add some hi resolution images for people to print themselves for free. Plus there are some hidden galleries on there of some rubbish early work, see if you can find them."

Q. Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?

A. "I’m currently in talks with a gallery in my home town of Liverpool. They want to display my work but I’m not sure if it will benefit me at all. I know there is a market for my art but finding it is the hard part, if anyone has any tips let me know."

Q. What galleries have you exhibited in? Can you provide links to their sites?

A. "Unfortunately I haven’t exhibited anywhere, I’ve had offers but the gallery wanted me to pay and this didn’t quite seem right, there are so many art scams about. I mean why should an artist ship there work across the world and pay £1200 for the privilege. It would be nice to get my work out there though so any offers?"

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "I have to be honest living in the UK there is a real stuck up attitude towards art. It’s not meant to be ‘for everyone by everyone’ if you know what I mean. I feel the internet has changed the art world for the better, now anyone can display their work. To me if something looks good to someone then it shouldn’t matter who created it and what formal training they have had, but in the UK the establishment just don’t want to know. To me the art world should be looked at in the same way as the music business. Imagine if the music business didn’t welcome new artists and was only interested in the past, it would die. There is a website called Britart, it’s well known and has some great artists on there like Peter Blake but it also has someone on there called Vic Reeves (last time I looked). Now Vic Reeves is a very funny man and one of my favourite comedians but his sketches are total crap and if he wasn’t who he was he would not be on Britart and this annoys me. Britart should be using their power on the web to welcome new artists not people who’ve made a name for themselves elsewhere who have no artistic talent."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. " I could do with some tips myself but all I would say is keep believing in yourself. Plenty of times I have almost given up and if I hardly sell anything before I die at least I will leave something for my family to remember me by. "
Q. Has your work ever been censored? If so, how did you deal with it?

A. "It’s not been seen enough to be censored. It would be nice to be censored though, at least I’d know I’d made it."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "I’ve never left rock bottom."

Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

"I create art to release all my thoughts and share the madness with the world."

Q. Can we find your art on MYARTSPACE.COM?

A. "Yes, Hiroshi Matsushita. You might try searching for just Matsushita."

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "Liverpool, England. It has probably got the best art scene in the North West, plus it has a Tate which can’t be bad. It is also European Capital of Culture 2008 so there are lots of changes going on. Hopefully this will bring Liverpool and it’s people to a wider audience."

Q. Has politics ever entered your art?

A. "I painted a piece this year titled ‘Capitalism + Fear = Fascism’. I was watching a lot of news relating to the war in Iraq and reading things regarding the oil situation. There just seems to be a lot of things that don’t add up about this war and you’ve got to be worried how America and Britain have acted. Also the Israel/Palestine conflict, it reminds me of the troubles in Northern Ireland and I think if Israel acted like the British Government did then, things might be different."

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the 'art world'?

A. "Just keep looking at my work and I’ll be happy. As for the art world I think there is a revolution on the way, pick up a pencil or a brush, get your work online and be seen. Forget the big galleries they’re out of touch, release your creativity."

I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Hiroshi Matsushita. You can find more of his art by searching for 'Matsushita' on the main site. .

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

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