Yoko Matsumoto,1965. (29 years old)

Yoko Matsumoto (b.1936, Tokyo)

Edom Becomes Wilderness

Yoko Matsumoto graduated from the oil painting department at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts in 1959; she began making abstract paintings around 1960 when she first encountered Liquitex acrylic in 1967 while on residency in New York City. At the end of the 1960s, she discovered painters such as Mark Rothko, Morris Louis, and Clyfford Still, who greatly influenced her pictorial work.

After returning to Japan in 1970, she dedicated the next 25 years to the study of pink, formulating her pigment mixed with chalk to maximize light refraction. Most of her paintings are titled after biblical verse evoking access to the immaterial, spiritual and metaphysical, explaining, "It's a mission, a vocation, like a voice from heaven telling me — and nobody else — to do this, Light, representing life, is one of the essential themes of painting." Her process is physical; traces of her limbs, hands, and feet can be found on the canvas surfaces and amount to a form of prayer in her approach.

Rather than revealing her mission of illuminating the history of art both from the Eastern and Western tradition, an encounter with Matsumoto's organic abstraction inevitably tricks the viewer's mind into looking for figurative resolution. At times one may see forms or objects only for them to sink back into the formless. The color fields are a mediation on the concept of the ether of what it may look or feel like beyond the body, or more likely what connects the soul to all matter. The show's title comes from Matsumoto's painting, Edom Becomes Wilderness, which references the controversial old testament civilization. Her message here may be that regardless of society's mistakes and hardships, the divine evidence in nature leads us back to balance, that we belong to the earth and not the other way around.

Artist Select Exhibitions

1961The 11th exhibition of Modern Art Association, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
1966 Trends in Japanese Contemporary Art, The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto
1974 The 10th Anniversary Artist to-day '74 exhibition" Yokohama Civic Art Gallery, Kanagawa
1986 Japanese Contemporary Art, Taipei Fine Art Museum, Taiwan
1987 The 10th Anniversary Exhibition Painting: 1977 – 1987 The National Museum of Art, Osaka
1994 Japanese Art after 1945: Scream Against the Sky, Yokohama Museum of Art
1997 Today's Artist 4: Saito Memorial Kawaguchi Museum of Contemporary Art, Saitama
2005 Today's Artist X: Nishimura Morio / Matsumoto Yoko, The National Museum Modern Art, Kamakura 2006 MOT Collection Part II, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
2007 The Retrospective Exhibition Claude Monet: L'art de Monet et sa Postérité" The National Tokyo 2009 The Light: MATSUMOTO Yoko / NOGUCHI Rika, The National Art Center, Tokyo
2012 Where There is Light, The Museum of Modern Art Kamakura, Kanagawa
2014 Color, Motion, Form Summer Adventure in Art, The Museum of Modern Art Hayama, Kanagawa 2015 Collection III, The National Museum of Art, Osaka
2015 Collection Becoming, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
2016 Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
2019 Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (collection feature)

Yoko Matsumoto,
Field of Midian, 1983
acrylic and chalk on canvas,
71.6 x 89.4 inches (182 x 227 cm)

Yoko Matsumoto,
Landscape-Like Surface Vibrates IV, 1995
Acrylic, chalk, and charcoal on canvas,
85.8 x 114.2 inches (218 x 290 cm

Yoko Matsumoto,
Edom Becomes Wilderness, 1989
Acrylic and chalk on canvas,
71.6 x 89.4 inches (182 x 227 cm)

Yoko Matsumoto,
Light Shining In Darkness, 1992
Acrylic, chalk, and charcoal on canvas,
71.6 x 89.4 inches (182 x 227 cm)