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Satoko MATSUI: a ghost
Written by Takeshi HIRATA   
Published: June 26 2009

Photo by Nobutada OMOTE, copy right(c) Satoko MATSUI

     I have never seen a ghost. Seeing a ghost means that we see a person who cannot exist in this world. Something which is considered to exist but which cannot be seen – a so-called ghost - makes people aware of their limitations in being unable to see it. In other words, although something exists, not everyone can see it. Therefore, the extent to which people can see ghosts varies between individuals, but the ideas of tenuous existence, and inequality through not being visible to all can be applied to things other than ghosts. Yes, they are applicable even to drawings.

     Satoko Matsui’s drawings have a dominating presence among her works, while also presenting a thin image, like ghosts. Nevertheless, these drawings, in which she depicts things that resemble parts of the human body, cannot be described only as mind-bending things such as ghosts. Indeed, in her solo exhibition entitled “THOM” (Galley wks., 02Apr/2007-14/Apr/2007), there was a work in which a doll was destroyed, re-made, and then made to vibrate as if it was twitching its body. We tended to be attracted by this work only because of its shocking image Nonetheless, coming close to the work and considering that it was displayed in a white box which looked like a showcase, we could recognize that what Matsui aimed to convey to viewers of this work was not a feeling of discomfort but her sober approach, namely, a sense of distance between her works themselves and their existence as exhibits.

the left part of "a ghost" (2009); pearl pigments, aluminum powder, and acrylic on canvas, 1621×1303mm, photo by Nobutada OMOTE, courtesy of gallery neutron, copy right(c) Satoko MATSUI

"a ghost" (2009); photo by Nobutada OMOTE, courtesy of gallery neutron, copy right(c) Satoko MATSUI

     In this exhibition, Matsui tried to take samplings deliberately from various lines which she had drawn. The samplings, which were selected from her drawings in which parts of the human body had been depicted, were reprocessed so minutely that we could not recognize their original figures; they had lost the vigorous image conveyed by the previous strong lines and now appeared to have an inorganic image. Nevertheless, it can be said that the characteristics of her drawings have not “died” in these samplings, which were created by disjointing and re-attaching each of the lines in her original drawings, since we can find various kinds of shading and strokes in the samplings. In other words, each sampling can be said to exist as “a body without a physical nature”*1 like “a ghost”, by being based on but departing from the physical image of the drawings.

     In addition, the strong image of Matsui’s drawings is supported by the base layer, which is made up deliberately. The illumination is refracted on the colored surface of the base. The angle of refraction of the light is different, depending on the direction from which we look at the works. A number of small circles are drawn all over the works, and the base layers and the drawings overlap in the shape of layers, and in this way the images are built up. These works make us feel as if the drawings - the “figures” - were swallowed by the “base layers”. Nonetheless, the bodies, namely, the “figures” which seem to have been absorbed into the base layers, are still “alive” in the works, and their outlines are still slightly visible. Such unshaped and ambiguous figures, though they make us feel that they represent something, present the uncertainty of the existence of things to viewers by giving an image of empty “bodies”.

"a ghost" (2009); photo by Nobutada OMOTE, courtesy of gallery neutron, copy right(c) Satoko MATSUI

     Indeed, Matsui’s drawings, which were created by taking samplings, may make us, the viewers, feel stress or anxiety, since we cannot recognize their images precisely. However, these works attract viewers with their high-quality completed base layers, though they seem to forbid viewers to look at them closely. In Matsui’s works, the beauty of the base layers, which were made up deliberately, plays a significant role in improving the quality of the drawings. It is as if “a ghost” appears in this actual world. Through her visible works, we may see the ghosts of other shapeless forms, while feeling anxiety and fear about their existence.
(Translated by Nozomi Nakayama)

This is an excerpt from “Satoko Matsui: Artist Statement” in a leaflet of this exhibition, which is distributed at the exhibition site.
Last Updated on October 24 2015

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