Last week we visited the studio of Brooklyn-based Japanese artist and sculptor Nao Matsumoto. If you’re a Spoon & Tamago reader you might be familiar with Matsumoto’s middle finger candles, which were used during the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, as well as to protest nuclear power in Japan.
When not making politically charged work, Matsumoto has recently been concerning himself with the chaotic and somewhat catastrophic possibilities that exist in the natural world. If you missed his recent show at hpgrp you should check out our review. And his amazingly rugged studio, located in an industrial loft building in Brooklyn, sets the stage for some of the work that goes on.
Nao Matsumoto demonstrating how he created the mold for his middle finger candles
Nao Matsumoto loves guns and is preparing for the next zombie outbreak.
Some of Matsumoto’s most prized possessions are his collection of wood-carving tools, which were all hand-crafted by artisans in Japan.
Although Matsumoto grew up in Japan, he attended an international school and speaks English and Japanese fluently. He walks a grey line between American and Japanese culture, often using his unique perspective to his advantage in his artwork. He spoke to us about his fascination with bosozoku, or Japanese motor cycle gangs, and how their culture, stylized fashion and way of life represent a unique Japanese invention. And the fact that female motorcycle gangs coexist in a largely male-dominated society represents an enigmatic paradox. Furthermore, the incorporation of bosozoku – and other various offshoots and subgenres – into western culture would suggest that they have indeed transcended the conventional boundaries of motorcycle gangs. Related links:
- Kanto Zoku (Documentary)
- Feminism in Bosozoku (Documentary)
- Bosozoku vs. Street Gang (Japanese TV segment)
- Peter Bjorn And John – Nothing To Worry About (Music Video)
- Weezer – Dope Nose (Music Video)
below: bamboo matcha tea whisk and a plexiglass dome used in aquariums. Matsumoto told us that he wants to create a terrarium inside so people can walk on top of it.
Nao san has an amazing view from the rooftop of his building, which overlooks Steiner Studios and the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Finally, my son Huey (5) had some questions for Nao san, which he kindly answered.
(special thanks to Masako for helping make this studio visit possible)