Tomokazu Matsuyama

Energetic explorations of cultural identity in a post-internet age.

artist Tomokazu Matsuyama sitting in his studio and looking to the camera
artist in studio signing multiple prints
Close-up of colourful Matsuyama print
9 images

Tomokazu Matsuyama was born in 1976 in Japan and is now based in Brooklyn, New York.


A New Yorker of more than two decades, Matsuyama cites the city's rich amalgam of cultures, values and visual codes as his reason for staying.

Did you know?

He used to be a professional snowboarder, which he compares to art as both pursuits present the opportunity to express himself.

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Tomokazu Matsuyama - Broken Train Pick Me Still
I've been here for two decades and I still don't see myself leavingTomokazu Matsuyama on New York City
artist Tomokazu Matsuyama standing in his studio and looking to the camera
As an artist, that’s my interest: trying to relate myself to the real world.Tomokazu Matsuyama on his practice


Practice overview

Matsuyama dismantles the rigid cultural parameters that he felt inhibited by growing up between Japan and America. His bright, complex images merge Eastern and Western art histories, from Pop Art, graffiti and Manga, to the Edo period, and the Kano School of Painting. Matsuyama’s canvases are rarely rectangular. Instead, they take on irregular shapes that often suggest the outline of an ancient Japanese scroll. The figures in his paintings have expressionless faces, and yet are surrounded by comforting symbols of the home like books and foliage. This combination of the familiar and the strange characterises Matsuyama’s oeuvre, and represents his own personal identity in limbo between two different homes, both of which are his, but simultaneously do not feel wholly his own.

In a time of the internet's instantaneous connectivity, the boundaries of culture and identity are dissolving. Matsuyama’s intricate patterns are epitomised in paintings like You Need To Come Closer (2014). Colourful and peculiar shapes lodge into each other and interconnect, collapsing into one great, multi-coloured canopy that evokes the infinite coalescence of a globalised world. Matsuyama’s incredibly technical compositions expose the twofold nature of our time: while our online identities are no longer bound to geography, our physical and psychological selves are further dependent on the wealth of information that we consume. A celebration of the borderless space of the internet, Matsuyama fragments notions of national and cultural norms, transforming personal and collective histories into a tirelessly rich artistic vision.

“The idea behind my work is to create a lens through which the viewer can study the hybrid condition of our culture.”Tomokazu Matsuyama