Movement, color, and surface

The Art of Matsutani Fumio
November 15, 2023
Movement, color, and surface

Born in 1975, Matsutani Fumio is a Japanese contemporary artist, sculptor, and potter who resides and works in Ehime. He is renowned for his meticulous vessels that showcase intricate surfaces fired over several months, revealing beautifully textured finishes achieved through the application of a transparent glaze.



Matsutani Fumio’s sculptural vessels revolve around three key aspects of his artistic expression: Movement, Color, and Surface. These elements manifest in his exploration of how movement can be depicted through architectural forms that harmoniously blend aspects of form and function.

He initiates the creation of his works months in advance, employing his meticulous craftsmanship to produce hand-incised textural surfaces in perfect monotone shades of yellow, blue, black, or brown. While Matsutani has never formally studied architecture, his deep interest in the field is evident: 


“When I go to a bookstore, I tend to head to the architecture section. My teacher, Masayuki Imai, had two tearooms in his studio in Hiroshima.”



Masayuki Imai had collaborated with architects to design and build these tearooms over a year, providing Matsutani with insight into the architectural design process. His affinity for architectural forms extends to a period where he observed the craftsmanship of a shrine carpenter, cultivating a profound connection with traditional craft principles in Japan. Although influenced by these experiences, Matsutani also draws inspiration from Western modernist design, particularly in the intersection of architecture and design, citing figures like Frank Lloyd Wright and Bruno Taut.

Matsutani’s sculptures fall under the category of “environmental aesthetics.” His artistic expression not only contemplates the spaces his vessels occupy but also treats the object environments as transactional or participatory, transcending formal aesthetics that often segregate object, subject, and space.

This relational aspect of Matsutani's work delves into the core discussions around the binary categories of form and function in contemporary ceramic dialogue. Beholders navigate around Matsutani's vessels, observing surfaces that glisten in the light, refracting light in various ways. Under raking light, the sheen of these vessels shifts and glows gently, reminiscent of the flash of a raven's feather flickering in sunlight. Like unfolding wings about to take flight, Matsutani Fumio's gracefully gliding vessels abstractly embody movement.


Matsutani has garnered numerous awards in a competitive Japanese ceramic society and has exhibited extensively both internationally and domestically. He skillfully blurs the line between form and function, utilizing textured polychrome surfaces to draw attention to the ceramic's intricate surface.


Browse available works by the artist here


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