Takahiro Matsuo Redefines Japan's Natural Beauty
Born in 1979, Takahiro Matsuo is an interactive artist and designer from Japan. Matsuo graduated from the postgraduate course Art and Information Design from the Kyushu Institute of Design, and has been garnering attention with his work since 2007 when he permanently exhibited his work at Ars Electronica. LUCENT, by Matsuo, employs technology and aesthetics to create incredibly expressive and, at times, emotional light-based artworks. The artist’s interest in constructing interactive spaces through his art installations inspires him to consider how people will perceive, spend time, and interact with his work in specifically selected spaces. While the artist creates work for art exhibitions and public spaces around the world, he also produces lighting art shown in commercial spaces and creative work for luxury brands.
Most recently, the artist has shown “Transparent Flowers.” This art installation is on display in Japan at the entrance to Sennyū-ji Temple, in the Sennin no Niwa garden. As part of the Rakuchu Kansei Art Exhibition 2021, steel lines and prisms work to create transparent flowers in which the steel lines act as the flower stems and prisms imitate flower petals. In response to COVID-19, this exhibition is being held virtually through video distribution.
The Rakuchu Kansei Art Exhibition involves twelve local Kyoto artists from a variety of fields to display their work. The name itself refers to the joining of like-minded individuals, the artists in this case, to share their thoughts throughout the landscape. The exhibition aims to showcase the Japanese culture of arts to the world from this city, once the proud capital of Japan. Focusing on the themes, tradition, sensitivity, and future, Japan’s beauty is at the forefront of the conversation with the historical architecture supporting contemporary art and design work.
Reflecting on the past year and the impact of COVID-19, the exhibition’s role in supporting arts and culture became even more necessary, reflecting hope on the horizon. Kyoto has long been a town with a colourful culture of arts. There is a traditional beauty in the town’s scenery and in its temples and gardens. This exhibition aims to merge this traditional beauty with contemporary art. In doing so, it seeks to remove barriers from viewers and artists and show that art surrounds visitors in their everyday lives.
Kyoto, famous for its classical Buddhist temples and gardens, is home to Sennyū-ji, a beautiful temple hidden in Southeast Kyoto in the mountains. Trees conceal the temple’s compound of Buddhist halls, the temple itself difficult to reach, particularly on foot or bicycle. Due to this difficulty, Sennyū-ji seldom receives foreign visitors, making it an even more curious space for an art exhibition, were it not held remotely. The garden is a small space, yet its combination of natural and man-made craftsmanship is matchless.
Ethereal and delicate, at first glance, the flowers appear as if floating in mid-air and display a minimally invasive installation. Simultaneously celebrating the beauty of the site, the art installation also brings a breath of fresh air, quite literally, in fact, through its movement and swaying of the flowers. Made from materials light enough to react to the surrounding environment, the “flowers” sway with the wind and bring the space alive. Matsuo’s use of prisms offers an intricate personal element that reminds viewers’ of the delicacy etched into the present moment and work itself. Depending on the time of day and amount of light, the petals become reflective. What was first a still atmosphere is now a new rhythm and triumphant explosion of light.
Additional information about LUCENT, and Takahiro Matsuo’s artistic practice can be found here on the artist’s website.