Ken Matsubara

I was sitting in the departure terminal at Kennedy Airport, reflecting dreamily on the satisfying events of the previous sixteen days, when received an email with great news—Chaos had been acquired by the Minneapolis Institute of Art for its collection!

 

Encounters between people can lead in the most unexpected directions and same is true of artworks. I created this work in 1983 (at age thirty-five) and thought that it would simply grow old and perish together with me. However, a meeting with a certain collector led to the New York exhibition and ultimately to the MIA collection. With the world in its current state, I can only feel that this future was fated for that work. 

 

Thirty-nine years since the production of Chaos.

I had stopped painting, but am now enjoying it once more. After Fuji (Wisteria) my next work will be Matsu (Pine).

 

I’m deeply into the Rinpa School.

Ken Matsubara

 


 

 

March 2022, it is early spring in New York and time for the annual Asia Week when the streets are filled with Asian art. 

With the unprecedented Covid pandemic leaving everybody unsure of what the future holds, the Ippodo Gallery New York held an exhibition of Ken Matsubara’s work, entitled, ‘Chaos to the Cosmos,’ a theme ideally suited to the times, and this masterpiece, which was painted from the soul, caused a sensation. 

I heard that people from the art world who visited the gallery became rooted to the spot when confronted by Ken Matsubara’s folding screen illustrating the Buddhist parable of the ‘White Path to Paradise.’ 

Thirty-nine years have passed since he painted this interpretation of the Niga Byakudō [White Path to Paradise between Two Rivers of Worldly Vice], which illustrates the Pure Land Buddhism’s teaching of a white road leading from chaos to Amida Buddha, retaining the influence of his teacher, Sankō Inoue, while devoting himself body and soul to the work. 

This pair of six-fold screens has been acquired for the collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Retaining this lingering sensation, he set about painting pine trees, following on from last year’s ‘wisteria.’ 

In The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon (completed 1002), there is a passage that reads, ‘Splendid things…Long drooping clusters of wisteria blossom, hanging from a pine tree.’ This image of wisteria entwined around a pine tree represents a woman nestling close to a man, and is a motif that can also be seen in the costumes of standing dolls and numerous ancient poems. 

Ken Matsubara, who produced this abstract view of Chaos, has now turned his brush towards the image of a pine tree and in so doing, he seeks to embody the spirit of the Rinpa School. 

 

Keiko Aono

Ginza Ippodo Gallery