Tomokazu Matsuyama, Sculptor of Dancer
Meet Tomokazu Matsuyama, the creator of Dancer, a public art installation appearing on the Flatiron South Plaza at 23rd and Broadway through early November. The stainless-steel structure, in collaboration with The Armory Show and NYC Department of Transportation Arts and Culture, is presented by the Chicago-based art gallery Kavi Gupta. “Dancer’s sinuous, mirrored-steel limbs undulate in joyous abandonment,” notes the gallery, “while reflecting a glittering jungle of whirling colors and forms.”
1. Congratulations on the display of Dancer in the Flatiron District. What was your reaction upon hearing the news?
I was extremely excited. Having lived in New York City for 20 years, in such a global melting pot and the capital of the arts world, it’s been my dream to have one of these projects realized on such a big scale. I’m pleased to be involved with this project.
2. Tell us more about Dancer, your inspiration, and the reason for the sculpture’s name.
Dancer debuted at The Best Part About Us, a solo exhibition at Kavi Gupta Gallery in Chicago earlier this year. Dancer came to the Flatiron Plaza as an off-site exhibition of The Armory Show. The abstracted form is not intended to portray a figurative image of an actual dancer. Rather, it is a poetic exploration of dancing. Whereas a human body is evident in the stainless-steel form, the piece is more about the idea of movement and action than a literal depiction of a dance.
3. The piece’s entwined material activates the surface of the structure, reflecting viewers and the surrounding environment in an interactive way. As a proud proponent of cultural exchange, what do you hope the public’s takeaway will be?
My theme in my artistic practice is to portray identity in our times, which are at times extremely diverse. Having amplified the diversity through lensing has been a great experience, especially because the work is engaged in public space. Being in bustling NYC where people are walking at a fast pace, I’m quite interested to see what the reaction will be.
4. As an accomplished visual artist, you’ve had a series of global exhibitions and public displays. You also earned an MFA in Communications Design from Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute and an undergraduate degree in economics from Sophie University in Japan. What sparked your interest in the fine arts?
Being an artist was more of a transition than a decision. One by one, what I have done from an earlier age until now has connected to fill in the holes. I am filling the puzzles now. I started practicing fine arts at the age of 25 but I don’t necessarily feel that my creativity started then. I think it is all naturally connected — being invited to New York City to become what I do now was an organic process, which I enjoy.
5. Speaking of the arts, Flatiron and NoMad are known for distinctively-designed buildings and public spaces. What’s your favorite architectural element in the area?
Flatiron and NoMad represent so much of New York City. I remember coming here 20 years ago. The thin structure of the Flatiron Building is one of the most recognizable buildings in New York so having a relationship and a personal dialogue with the building and this piece is a huge bonus for me.
6. Your studio is located in Greenpoint. When you cross the East River, how do you prefer to spend your time in Flatiron and NoMad? Any local favorites or ‘musts’ come to mind?
Although there is the Flatiron Building, there’s also Eataly and Madison Square Park. It is a vibrant neighborhood, a mixture of different communities that come all into one. I also used to teach at the School of Visual Arts, which is only a few blocks away. For me, it’s a memorable location.
7. Finally, choose three words to describe Flatiron and NoMad.
Love You NYC!
Header & Thumbnail Photo Credit: D’Angelo Lovell Williams