Tales of a Tokyo Artist
The delicately-smudged lines of a bird in flight. The scarlet walls of an empty room. A fried egg surrounded by forest.
Japanese artist Saka Matsushita, 32, creates a rainbow-bright repertoire of drawings, sketches and monoprints that are as dreamlike as they are quietly pensive.
Themes of memories and identity are often woven into her abstract narratives. But there is one other key source of inspiration for her work: Tokyo.
The Japanese capital has long attracted creatives, with its world-class contemporary galleries, trend-triggering street culture and craftsmanship heritage.
The Journal chats to Saka about Tokyo life as an artist over banana cake at her favourite Daikanayama café Matsunosuke N.Y. (http://www.matsunosukepie.com/) before taking a stroll to her studio.
What inspires your creations?
One main theme is memories. I am fascinated by how each individual processes and restores memories and what triggers them to remember those, so my drawings always tell a story.
How do you feel about Tokyo as a city?
I was born in southern Japan, raised in Toronto, New York and Tokyo and lived in London for six years. So sometimes I feel like Tokyo is my home – and other times I feel like I don’t know this city at all. But that unexplainable feeling is a source of creative inspiration.
What is it like being an artist here?
The best part is the inspiration you get from the city. If you pay attention, you realise that everything is so well designed and made with high quality craftsmanship – everyday objects, architecture, packaging, even the toilets! You’re always surrounded by the mini-art works of others.
Any favourite Tokyo neighbourhoods?
I pass through Daikanyama every day – either walking or on my bicycle – because it is between my home and my studio. I often spend time here – having lunch with friends, looking at books in the complex T-Site, picnicking in the park. I even get my hair cut in Daikanyama and I love eating at Pizza Slice restaurant.
Why do you like the area (it’s also Caramel Japan’s neighbourhood)?
Daikanyama is very relaxed. It’s a good place for me to just turn off and enjoy whatever is in front of me – maybe a book, a friend, a cup of coffee – which is normally very hard in a city like Tokyo.
And finally, can you share some of your favourite Tokyo art spots?
- Blum & Poe Tokyo – the Japan branch of the LA gallery in Harajuku https://www.blumandpoe.com/
- Complex 665 – a three-storey complex housing independent contemporary art galleries in Roppongi, including Taka Ishii Gallery http://takaishiigallery.com/en/
- Uematsu – an art supply shop in Shibuya (http://www.shibuyamiyamasu.jp/uematsu/main.html)
- Souvenir from Tokyo – a shop at the National Art Center in Roppongi (souvenirfromtokyo.jp; http://www.nact.jp/english/)
- Lion Café – a very old and atmospheric classical music café in Shibuya (http://en.goodcoffee.me/coffeeshop/lion/)
Words and images by: Danielle Demetriou