Katsuhiko Matsubara, Landscape #1, 2020, oil on canvas, 230×180cm, Courtesy the artist.
Comprised of thick layers of vibrantly hued oil paint, Katsuhiko Matsubara’s largescale canvases often provoke a visceral reaction in their audience. Through his repeated use of pink and red—which brings to mind internal organs and blood filled veins—the artist highlights the physicality of his medium, resulting in surfaces that disgust and delight in equal measure. Drawing heavily on mythology and the concept of Animism, the attribution of a living soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena, Matsubara’s paintings attempt to shape creatures such as embryos, animals, monsters or spirits.
For his exhibition at Kuenstlerhaus Bethanien, Matsubara has brought together 15 of these works for the first time. By hanging his canvases side by side without gaps, he keeps the autonomy of the individual images and at the same time creates a temporary Gesamtkunstwerk that likens to a womb or a cave. Based on his attempts to evoke an emotional and physiological response in his audience, Matsubara compares entering the exhibition room to the feeling of “slipping into a warm bath”. Everything, human and animal, life and death, organic and synthetic material, becomes fluid and exchangeable. The show’s title “You have body, I have body” further underlines the importance of the viewer’s physical presence.
Photo: David Brandt