In collaboration with East Japan Railway Company (JR), Japanese artist Tomokazu Matsuyama launches an ambitious public art project, Shinjuku East Square, at JR Shinjuku Station in Tokyo – the world’s busiest station according to the Guinness Book of Records. Right next to its East Exit, the new cultural landmark is scheduled to be activated on July 19th, 2020.
Born in Japan and based in New York, Tomokazu Matsuyama is celebrated for his compositional strategies that bring together his cultural heritage with that of his global identity. Much of Matsuyama’s oeuvre is invested in uncovering the intermingling of cultural signifiers and the impact of globalization. His works borrow conventions from sources as diverse as Kano School, a dominant style of painting in Japan from the 15th – 18th centuries, to American pop culture, and styles like Abstract Expressionism; yet they defy traditional interpretation as he repositions them within a shifting world dialogue.
The long-anticipated community art park will feature an 8-meter-high monumental mirrored sculpture ‘Hanao-San’. Standing proudly in the center, the boy holding a bouquet will be greeting 3.5 million daily passengers on average. The motif concurrently is an ode to the urban history of Shinjuku city, and conceived as a welcoming gesture for connection, communication and unity, especially in this era of extreme division.
Enclosing the boy will be graphic inspired land art created with a deep understanding of Japanese heritage, concerning the aesthetics of nature, the four seasons and ancient Japanese culture, and seamlessly blend with the influence of contemporary art. Testament to Matsuyama’s unique artistic language, the flowery graphic patterns appropriated from multiple cultural elements form a visual manifestation of the evolving urban life and global exchange. The static land art enmeshed with the moving images reflected on the sculpture, evoke a timeless visual and spatial experience of the world around us. Walkers are encouraged to linger, converse and meditate, before they disappear into streets of the cosmopolitan city again.
The concept of the space ‘Metro–Bewilder’ is a coined word that encompasses the ideas of the city (‘metro’), nature (‘wild’), and bemusement (‘bewilder’). By conceptualizing those keywords, Matsuyama invents an unorthodox community space with two conflicting elements, ‘metro’ and ‘wild’. The unprecedented design highlights the characters of Shinjuku, an area that is hyper energetic from day to night, “bewildering” people with its duality of elements.
Home to many of Tokyo’s tallest buildings, including the twin towers of the Metropolitan Government office, Shinjuku is simultaneously surrounded by department stores, subterranean malls, innumerable culinary offerings, not to mention the lavish nightlife decorated with futuristic neon lights. Seen as the heartbeat of Tokyo, Shinjuku is a must-visit destination for both domestic and international tourists. The project therefore is particularly relevant now. While social distancing will be a norm in the foreseeable future, Shinjuku East Square exemplifies urban landscape innovation that uses art as an anchor to reshape our contemporary experience, in response to human kind’s shared quest for connection.
UAP is proud to have collaborated with Matsuyama to realise Hanao-San, the monumental sculpture which forms the centerpiece of the park design.
“To be able to assist Tomokazu Matsuyama in bringing his unique graphic-based practice to such an important landmark of Tokyo was a privilege.
Matsuyama’s signature focus on intricately designed culturally informed forms and patterns is brilliantly evident in the iconic three-dimensional form which brings a stunning highlight to the public space where it will greet commuters and tourists alike for years to come. In turbulent times such as these, the importance of welcoming and vibrant public spaces which offer a place to connect and share is paramount.” – Dane Currey, Principal | Art + DesignWorking in a coordinated effort between New York, Tokyo and Shanghai, with a focus on the highest standards of material craftsmanship and engineering, the final piece is evidence of the strength of international collaboration, even through current uncertain times.