Sotheby’s Hong Kong Presents
Tomokazu Matsuyama: Harmless Charm
13 Newly-Created Paintings To Be Exhibited For First Time Ever
Alongside Tomokazu Matsuyama’s Debut NFT Collection
Works From The Artist’s Signature Abstract, Equestrian, Fictional Landscape and Mythological Series
Selling Exhibition | 14 - 21 June 2022
Sotheby's Hong Kong Gallery (5/F One Pacific Place)
Hong Kong, 6 June 2022 New York-based Japanese artist Tomokazu Matsuyama is set to put his stamp on Sotheby’s Hong Kong. Titled ‘Harmless Charm’, the selling exhibition from 14 - 21 June 2022 marks his return to the city after five years. The exhibition will feature over 20 works, including newly created and never-before-seen paintings which blend elements of popular culture and traditional Asian motifs, moving beyond traditional geographical and temporal boundaries to create worlds where there is no East and West nor past and present.
Forming part of Matsuyama’s celebrated Abstract, Equestrian, Fictional Landscape and Mythological series, these pieces will go on view alongside his debut collection of 9 NFTs. A digital extension of his painterly explorations into reality and cultural identity, Matsuyama’s NFT collection - comprising three unique 1-of-1s, three editions of 5 and three editions of 150 - will also be available to view and purchase on Sotheby’s Metaverse. Upon purchase of all three editions of 150 NFTs, collectors will be able to redeem a special edition NFT gift designed by Matsuyama. Each wallet is permitted to claim a maximum of one claimable gift.
The exhibition opens just months after Matsuyama’s solo exhibition at the Long Museum in Shanghai and following the auction record set for the artist at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April this year.
Matsuyama’s exhibition ‘Harmless Charm’ follows hot on the heels of a stellar Spring sale series for Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, which achieved a combined total of HK$3.85 billion / US$496 million – the second highest ever total for Sotheby’s Asia and reaffirming the company’s market leadership in Asia. The series saw strong results across the board, with 88% of the offerings finding new homes, and a record high percentage of young bidders. For further information, click here.
Speaking about the exhibition Tomokazu Matsuyama said, “This project means a lot to me and it is exciting to be able to share my new creations with not only Sotheby’s but with art lovers in Hong Kong and beyond. ‘Harmless Charm’ represents my journey of self-discovery as an artist exploring a whole new medium, as well as a means of exploring our existence and optimising hope for the future. While many may perceive my work to just be about the East and West, or the meeting of tradition and contemporary, it is actually an exploration of the world between the two. I’m not looking at the world in black and white, but trying to find the grey areas, where I can find new perspectives and ideas.”
Nick Buckley Wood, Private Sales Director, Sotheby’s Asia, comments, “This June, we are excited to bring the solo exhibition of Tomokazu Matsuyama to collectors in Asia. As one of the most dynamic and acclaimed artists today, Matsuyama’s artworks build on his cross-cultural experience of growing up between Japan and the United States, exploring self-identity in our rapidly-changing modern society. For the first time ever, Matsuyama will display his iconic canvases alongside digital artworks, encouraging the viewer to question the meaning and values of our reality in today’s digital world.”
Matsuyama references and reinterprets the power and gesture of Abstract Expressionist artists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning through his unique style. By folding in the Eastern tradition of lucky charms, Harmless Charm is inspired by the ‘Senbazuru’ - a thousand paper cranes. The bright center piece is complemented by the two tondos in a subdued palette with pops of mint green hues.
The Mythological series reinterprets the qilin, the legendary divine beast. The largest work in the exhibition, World Town Lonely features a spirited dragon, crafted with an abstract visual language and vivid colours, reminiscent of both pop culture and Asian culture. Matsuyama brings together a dichotomy of Eastern and Western cultures within his canvas, for instance, in Western art history dragons are often regarded as terrifying beasts to slay, whereas the East sees them as divine and auspicious, prompting viewers to question cross-cultural blending within today’s society.
The unusual interior scene of Melody Mad Afternoon includes diverse references to art history and contemporary Asian and Western culture leaving the viewer to discover their own interpretations of the work. Andy Warhol’s Brillo Box, a scarf from New York’s garment district and a cat inspired by traditional Japanese painting, as well as hand-painted wallpaper and decor, blend together to express our transient identity that is free from constraints of temporal and geographical context.
Historically a symbol of power and conquest in almost every culture, the recurring motif of the horse and rider is given a new meaning in this series through the artist’s use of vivid colours, a confused temporal and meteorological state and fashionable contemporary clothing. Matsuyama’s seemingly effortless blending of motifs and painting styles draws the viewer to make connections with other diasporic artists. He aims to liberate the traditional equestrian image from the context of propaganda in an effort to reframe historic connotations of the subject matter while venturing into an uncharted artistic territory.
NFT | Edition of 150 titled Why Worry Natural as a claimable gift to anyone who purchases ALL three Editions of 150, Portrait 1, Portrait 2 and Portrait 3 (from left to right). Each wallet is permitted to claim a maximum of one claimable gift.
ABOUT TOMOKAZU MATSUYAMA
Tomokazu Matsuyama (b. 1976, Japan) creates work that responds to his own bi-cultural experience of growing up between Japan and America by questioning the aesthetic, cultural and conceptual systems of East and West.
Matsuyama currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He received his MFA in Communications Design from the Pratt Institute, New York. Matsuyama’s important exhibitions include the Long Museums in both Shanghai and Chongqing, China; Hong Kong Contemporary Art (HOCA) Foundation, Hong Kong; Japan Society, New York, NY, USA; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA; Katzen Arts Center at American University Museum, Washington, DC, USA; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia, among other galleries and institutions.
Matsuyama’s works are in the permanent collections of LACMA, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA, USA; Long Museum, Shanghai; Powerlong Museum, Shanghai; The Royal Family of Dubai, UAE; Bank of Sharjah Collection, Dubai, UAE; Microsoft Collection, and more.
Sotheby’s Hong Kong sets new auction record for Tomokazu Matsuyama in April 2022:
Tomokazu Matsuyama’s Something Came Together, a monumental work from his Equestrian Series, sold for HK$5,040,000 / US$642,000 (est. HK$600,000-800,000), over 6 times its high estimate, setting an auction record for the artist.