As the digital era has made porous the boundaries between our reality and the virtual realm, Japan's anime culture has created an inseparable bridge between the fantasy of the digital world and the culture of the real world. Hiroyuki Matsuura limns on this contemporary social condition, lending us his benign utopian characters in affable animated depiction and in technique. The description of Zampa- Golden Zipangu is committed by the structure of progressive colors that reverberate the action the protagonist executes. Panoramic and enchanting within its horizontal frame, Matsuura assimilates an aesthetic trait of traditional Japanese screen paintings with a golden leaf illuminating the backdrop, and glazed with a vigorous samurai riding powerful Edo-period waves. Byobu screens of the late 16th century were favored by new samurais as ostentatious flauntings of their power and wealth; the screen's brilliant colors and gold leaf backgrounds were ideal for such purpose, and also conveniently presentable within the intimacy of their home. Though the gold leaf subtly gleam under the quiet lightings of traditional homes, in Matsuura's intensely refreshing realm of painterly graphics, the gold milieu radiates a brasher fluorescent sensation, possibly mimicking the digital color palette of technology. Japan's classical art's pictorial flatness and immaculate embellishment is tapped into this graphic spectacle with raw black contours that act to compress the shape of the character, employing the layering of different hues of the same color to create an array of shadows, movement and shape; similarly distinctive in his optically deluding, stylized gradation of color, this layering of different hues of the same color in different shapes results in a visually stimulating array of colors. Embodying the exacting attitude of graphic design, comics and animation, the blocks of color are so unmistakably definite that we are reminded of neat lines of colored pixels that crawl across our computer screens.
The artificiality of these gaudy colors give life to the protagonist; the potency of bright orange hair, blue attire and crisp white waves adhere together to visually awaken the viewer to the sound of robust waves and subversive power of a fire-hued hair samurai. The contradictory surface between the coolness of acrylic and the softness of gold leaf is ingeniously merged like a graphic pattern as the gold seeps through, cutting through the clothing, waves and knife or perhaps vice versa, sparking a slight perceptual disorientation to which medium and context is applied on the forefront or to the background.
Such graphic spirit of Japanese is continued in Tsubaki (Lot 1004) as Matsuura exaggerates the large and soulless yellow-brown eyes in aesthetic complement to the gold background. He has taken a playful attitude of sticking his tongue out in animated affability, contradictory to Zampa-Golden Zipangu. Both these paintings reach out to our contemporary utopian habits as heros, as we find ourselves further convinced of their reality by the illuminating gold background duping our vision as a fantasy space of animation. As the viewer subconsciously immerses into this virtual realm, establishing kinship with these protagonists, we realize our strangely compelled awe towards Matsuura's paintings, unlocking our vulnerable willingness to let down our defenses and to escape to or with these fictionalized characters, hoping them to provide us solace, role-models and companionship in their fantastical universe.
This inexplicable multiculturalism of popular cult figures and animation acts as a visual border between design and art that should not be interpreted on a superficial level. Rather his oeuvre not only clearly articulates a modern visual symbolic system, but stands as a subtle commentary on the inability of this generation to distinguish themselves from a digital world.