Y U T A K A   M A T S U Z A W A  :  U N D E R   S E A B E D   M A N D A L A



 " ARTISTIC APOCALYPSE : FROM THE DEPTH OF THE SOUL " so lautet der Titel des Katalogs zu der berühmten Ushimada-Biennale in Japan von Tsuyuhiko Hints. Der Untertitel  " The sign of the Grat Bear dissappears in the palm of the hand ... but the Flower inside must be open. Behind, sand spills through the hourglass verweist auf die kosmische Haltung des Autors und auf die verschwindente Zeit. (Isui Yoshida"Swan 1" from person of the futur).


Am Ende des 2. Weltkriegs litt Japan  unter der nuklearen Katastrophe. In diesem Kontext mussten Künstler versuchen, Faschismus und Krieg, sowie  den seit der Meiji-Periode andauernden westlichen Einfluss zu verarbeiten. Japanische Künstler sahen sich vor die Aufgabe gestellt,  eine Kunst der Menschlichkeit zu entwickeln, die eine Antwort auf die Anforderungen der Gegenwart und die  " re-exploration ", die Widererforschung des einzigartigen japanischen ästhetischen Konzepts geben konnte.


Am  Kriegsende eroberten abstrakte Kunstrichtungen Europa und die USA. In Japan führte  die GUTAI-Gruppe ähnliche Experimente zeitgleich durch. Matsuzawa, einer der Künstler der Ausstellung begann konzeptuelle Kunst zu machen, ehe die Concept-Art Weltbewegung begann. Seine Pionnier-Position wurde im Westen erst  in den späten 1970er Jahren anerkannt.


Matsuzawa begann Architektur zu studieren, kehrte aber durch die weltweite Situation Zement und Beton den Rücken zu Gunsten einer " Architcture of the spirit " - eine Architektur des Geistes und einer " invisible Architecture " unsichtbaren Architektur. Er soll gesagt haben, Beton sei zu weich. Er schien das Gefühl zu haben, dass die letzte Ressource, die Kunst revitalisieren konnte, nur Vertrauen in Spiritualität sein konnte. Für Matsuzawa ist Psi gleichbedeutend mit Seele. Sein " Meaning of Psi " mit dem Untertitel "For Heisenberg's universal Formulas" zeigt neun Mandalas, in denen Buddha und alle Formen der Existenz in ein Raster von neun Quadraten von 90 x 90 cm grossen  Papierbögen je in Rot und Weiss eingebunden sind.


Während eines Aufenthalts in Amerika lernte  Matzusawa die Kunstform der Happenings kennen. Ab dieser Zeit beginnen Matsuzawa's Performances wie Ah Nihilism ! Ah Wildernes ! Psi Instruments ! im Jahr 1965 und  All human Beeings ! Let's Vanisch! Let's Go ! Let's Go ! und Anti-Civilization Committee (auf einem rosa Banner) im Jahr 1966.


1979 wurde Matsuzawa Mitglied der Academia Tiberiana als Begründer der Concept Art. 1985 lernten wir Matsuzawa kennen. Seine Arbeit ist auch heute noch Bestandteil unserer Tätigkeit. ( Zusammenfassung eines Teiles des Texts über Matsuzawa von T. Hinatsu im Katalog der Ushimada Biennale)


Wir zeigen die UNDER SEABED MANDALA, die während einer Performance in unserer Galerie im Jahr 1986 entstand und seine Pilgerreisen zu den 9 heiligen Bergen Japans thematisiert.




Yutaka Matsuzawa, „Apocalypse in Contemporary Art I - From the Depth of Soul“,

Artists to-day ́86, 11/14 - 11/27, pp. 9-10


text by Tsuyuhiko Hinatsu

translation by Stan Anderson



"Yutaka Matsuzawa  [ ] began making conceptual art before the world movement began. His pioneering position was recognized in the West in the late 1970’s.  [ ] Artists like Matsuzawa who were working on the basis of sound premises received little effective publicity inside or outside Japan.  [ ] Matsuzawa, in the development ofhiss creative awareness of obstacles presented by the state and society and the encroachment of fetishism on a global scale. He arrived at a position of ‚cheerful nihilism’ early in his life and was unmoved by the deluge of new information which might have been distracting to his senses. He has continually striven to combine the profond voice of the spirit with art in a fish and simple form. He deliberate working procedure based on a acceptance of nihilism  [ ]. [ ] Matsuzawa has been described as a quiet, composed individual but there are certain other facts about his life that should be remembered. During his sensitive youth he was often forced to see freedom fighters put in jail and boys his own age sent to their graves. The fate of individuals was pushed to extreme limits by an all-powerful authority.  [ ] Matsuzawa was deeply distressed by the extreme conditions of the war. When faced with new crisis conditions which he did not see as being essentially different from the war, he received a relegation which helped him create a new art from which could fly across the face of the globe. Eventually, he gained an international reputation for the conceptual art which followed this revelation, but during the decade prior to his revelation he produced a body of paintings, drawings, objects and concepts which are significant expressions of a quietly mysterious beauty.
Matsuzawa entered college with the intention of becoming an architect. Because of the troubled world situation he was repelled by cement and steel buildings and proposed an „architecture to the spirit“, an „invisible architecture“. He was consoled by the poetry of Francis Jammes, the French symbolist poet  [ ] who sang the mystery in nature and the love of God, and the modern Japanese symbolist poet Junzaburo Nishiwaki, who sought eternity in an ironic spirit, mixing playfulness and metaphysics. Driven deeper into a nihilistic frame of mind, he must have been grateful of life but bitter at the futile deaths of his contemporaries. he seems to have had a feeling that the last resource for revitalizing art was confidence in spirituality and communication on a spiritual plane 

[ ] demonstrated by his paintings from the decade between 1953 and 1964."




Yutaka Matsuzawa,

Enciclopedia Mondiale degli Artisti Contemporanei, Selezioni, 1984.


texte by Edward F. Frey


"Matsuzawa’s 'paintings' are for an outside observer the most radical position in contemporary Japanese art, and at the same time a pure, 'conservative' expression of the Buddhist heritage in Japanese culture. His explicit, almost total renunciation of aesthetic ego, his total unification of art with life and with the awareness of life as both tragedy and dream, may be seen as a radical critique of all Western aesthetics ; but he also represents, in his current position among younger artists of quiet influence, leadership, and example possibly a path by which the creative vision of Japan may be most adequately presented to the word. The situation of Japanese art  thus faithfully reveal the choices presented by its current national position : complete Westernization would demand a form of cultural suicide which could not but eventually cause a breakdown in the society as a whole. A total return to historical traditions would require the withdrawal of the nation and its culture from all that it has gained from and can offer to the West. Mere updating of tradition and imitation of exterior models are doomed to failure and could bring about a cultural schizophrenia. It is rather by a creative fusion its living traditions with the new problems and opportunities confronting it and the rest of the world that Japanese art and society may continue to offer ever wider perspectives for the future."



Charles Merewether, Rika Izumi Hiro et  Reiko Tomii,

Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art : Experimentation in the Public Sphere in Postwar Japan, 1950-1970,

Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute, exhibition 6 March - 3 June 2007, pp. 41-43, 124-125.


text by Reiko Tomii


„ [Yutaka Matsuzawa and Yoko Ono, two pioneers in Japanese conceptualism] began to use language, affording themselves an infinite freedom to transcendent material based conventions.  [  ] In contrast, [Yutaka] Matsuzawa’s meditative conceptualism was informed by an apocalyptic cosmic view.
In 1946, he wrote in his graduation thesis  [  ] 'I don't believe in solidness of iron and concrete. I want to create an architecture of soul, formless architecture, invisible architecture'.

Matsuzawa Yutaka, " Jihitsu Nenpu 1922-2222 " (Auto-chronology), Kikan (Fuknoka, Kaichosha), spécial issue, n° 13 (1982).
He searched widely for a means to realize this idea, studying art and poetry and exploring alternative realities [  ] and quantum physics.

As gleaned from his autobiography  [  ], his interest in alternate realities is broad, ranging from Esoteric Buddhism to  [  ] mainstream science (biology, mathematics, physics) to all streams of prescience, including the examination of UFO's, the afterlife, and physic phenomena.
1964, he concluded that he should 'vanish the objects', a revelation that compelled him to abandon materiality in favor of language.
This legendary episode and the first work he made upon this revelation is described in Reiko Tomii, "Concerning the Institute of Art : Conceptualism in Japan", in Global Conceptualism : Points of Origin, 1950s - 1980s, exh. cat. New York : Queens Museum of Art, 1999.

From this time award, this idea of vanishing (shometsu) permeated his work. One early example is Ju  ( Blessing ) [ 1966 ] which mimics the form of Shintoist paper talisman. Instead of a 'good luck' whish, it bears eighty-one mantras of 'vanishing' in three-by-three grid format of a Buddhist mandala. [collection privé, New York]


1. Governements will vanish.                                                                                  

2. Sex will vanish.

3. Factories will vanish.

4. Production will vanish.

5. Capital will vanish.

6. Amateurs will vanish.

7. Professionals will vanish.

8. Egg will vanish.

9. Music will vanish.



[10. - 72.]



73. The universe will vanish.

74. Humanity will vanish.

75. Ferns will vanish.

76. Geijutsu [ Art ] will vanish.

77. Bijutsu [ Art ] will vanish.

78. Painting will vanish.

79. Anti-civilazation will vanish.

80. You will vanish.

81.           will vanish."



texte by Rika Izumi Hiro with  Reiko Tomii


"In 1964, [Yutaka] Matsuzawa produced his first work made by solely of language, Psi (Ψ) Corpse, and since then, the artist's cosmic conceptualism has embraced texts, manifestos, and invitations to readers to create exhibitions in their mind [ ]."