Yoko Matsumoto

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18 January 2024 to 9 March 2024 White Cube Mason’s Yard

A person wearing a white shirt and dark pants is bending over, painting a large canvas on the floor with a brush. The canvas appears to have a pink and purple pattern. There are additional canvases and painting materials visible in the background.
Yoko Matsumoto painting at her studio in Ongata, Hachioji, Tokyo, in 1982 © artist. Courtesy Hino Gallery and White Cube. Photo © Mikio Kubota

White Cube Mason’s Yard presents the debut UK solo exhibition by Japanese artist Yoko Matsumoto

The exhibition will feature paintings and works on paper from the mid-1980s to the present day,  including her signature labour-intensive ‘pink’ works which she began in the 1970s and continued to develop for three decades. ‘Unlike black and white, pink bears no concept; instead it exists, unreachable, in the innermost depths of our subconscious’, she has said.  

Born in 1936 in Tokyo, Matsumoto’s expressive and disciplined abstraction is informed by lineages of Japanese art, in particular the monochromatic ink drawing practice of suiboku-ga. Throughout her work, Matsumoto addresses colour in a processual and meditative manner with a rigorous use of light, shade and hue.

Also featured are acrylic paintings made between 1989 to the late 1990s showcasing the influence from her time spent in New York in 1967. It was here she discovered materials unavailable in Japan, namely acrylic paint (Liquitex) and raw cotton canvas, and the work of artists such as Morris Louis and Helen Frankenthaler. 

Works of an intimate scale include a series of delicate charcoal and pastel drawings recalling blustery contours of a windswept landscape. This painterly language runs through her oil paintings, which she returned to in the 2000s, including her ‘green’ works inspired by nature and its historic representation, from Cézanne’s The Great Pine (1889) to Monet’s series of haystacks or Hishida Shunsō’s epic Fallen Leaves (1909). 

In a selection of works produced from 2006 onwards, Matsumoto explores how far oil paint can be taken solely on the potency of the colour green, with compositions underwritten by streaks of Mediterranean blue. For the artist, the use of blue embodies a ‘magical force’ that ‘transcends all boundaries’ and is capable of transforming the space and qualities of a painting. 

In more recent works, Matsumoto concentrates on tones of white applied with a roller. Evolved from studies of the sky, these bleary abstractions evoke spiritual qualities that the artist likens to an ‘afterlife’. 

The exhibition is organised in collaboration with Hino Gallery.

Further Information:  Yoko Matsumoto, Mason's Yard (2024) | White Cube