Takesada Matsutani at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles

Words: Amy Marie Slocum

August 07 2017

“In Gutai Art, the human spirit and matter shake hands with each other while keeping their distance. Matter never compromises itself with the spirit; the spirit never dominates matter,” – the Gutai Art Manifesto (1956).

As a member of the second wave of Gutai artists in Japan – the avant-garde collective of artists who formed directly after WWII – Takesada Matsutani is deeply aware of the materials he uses and the gestures with which he treats them. His exhibition at Hauser & Wirth – his first in Los Angeles – is coupled with a performance piece, a site-specific work of art done in his traditional materials of vinyl glue and black paint, spread down a long scroll of paper via a custom squeegee.

This year, the artist is participating in the 57th Venice Biennale with a piece called

We spoke to the curator of the exhibition, Olivier Renaud-Clément, a French art dealer and curator specialized in photography, as well as the artist himself.

Can you speak a little bit about the history of performance in Matsutani’s practice? Why was it important that he create a piece for this exhibition?

Renaud-Clément It shows and expands on Matsutani’s practice as an artist/painter and allows for him to engage fully with the public. Additionally, it retains a strong tie with the practice of calligraphy strongly routed in his background and education.

It further expands on the organic notion of the work. Especially taking into consideration the surprise the use of vinyl glue may perpetuate once applied.


Can you speak a little about your use of vinyl glue? What interested you about the material when you were first starting out? Why do you continue to use it? How has its meaning changed for you over time? 

Takesada Vinyl glue was my big discovery. I was looking for a new material in was it 1961. I ignored any paint as I wanted a material that would work for me in three dimensions from a two-dimensional surface. There were many faulty starts, but, I persevered and the day I poured the glue onto canvas and flipped it over to drip a dry wind pulled on it. It looked like a stalagmite. Very exciting and full of possibilities. That was the beginning of many experiments that have continued throughout the years. A certain control of the flow exists; however, I must always deal with the unexpected and unpredictable.

Your piece “Venice Stream” is included in this exhibition. How is the piece related to the installation Venice Stream at the Biennale? In what ways does the piece stand as its own statement? 

Takesada Venice Stream is a banal story. The one exhibited at H & W is a smaller circle than what is actually in place at the Venice Biennale. We enlarged that one to 230 cm because it is hung very high (5 meters) on a 410-cm canvas. The one you have [at Hauser & Wirth] is the mother of the Venice Biennale piece. It stands altogether independent as a canvas. Perhaps it is misnamed. Could be called “Carnival Moon.”

How did you conceive of the work that you created on site at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles? Is the technique used on this piece a recent development, or something you have been practicing for a long time? 

Takesada This is much the same when I do a performance or évent pièce such as the one in L.A. at Hauser & Wirth on a 10-meter paper. First of all, I have my tools: paper, a container of glue, black house paint and a squeegee normally used for printing in silkscreen. I planned in my head another Stream for L.A. knowing that the technique I recently put together will probably be interesting. I think I’ve used it just twice in a performance and on canvas occasionally in the last five years on a smaller scale.

The actually doing has an element of risk, seeing as conditions change, and so is a challenge for me. Of course, there is the symbolism of the Stream on-going in time and never the same.

‘TAKESADA MATSUTANI’ is on view now at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles though September 17, 2017.