Distillation: Paintings by Ken Matsubara

“When the ability to express emotion was acquired, that is when man became human.

I would like to get back to this starting point. 

If my paintings strike a sympathetic chord with, and awaken nostalgia in the back of 

a viewer’s mind, it will be my pleasure as an artist.”  

 Ken Matsubara


The upthrusting of the ground, flowing water, steaming air currents.

The natural phenomena of the Earth appear chaotic but possess an order and it is this expression of life that Ken Matsubara captures in his paintings.  

Matsubara always paints out of doors.  Whether it be the oppressive heat of summer or the frigid cold of winter, he says he likes to be able to see the colors in natural daylight.  He travels deep into the mountains in the search of his materials and choosing only the finest-grained earths that he carefully decocts to produce pigments for his work.  Using a brush to apply a thick line, he then sprays it with water, allowing it to flow until the pigments create a fluid shape that resembles terrain that has been eroded by the rain.  What finally remains on the canvas is a looming image of nature resembling a mountain valley.

This is the way in which his ‘Mt. Fuji’ pictures in the ‘Landscape’ series were born. 


His works can be seen in the Hotel Okura and many other hotels or public facilities across Japan.  Within the space and time that transforms according to the Japan's four seasons, his works continue to coexist quietly with people.  This is no doubt due to the techniques employed by Matsubara to commit himself to nature through the creation of his works, methods that remove impurities, leaving a pure distillation of the image.  It is these gentle yet severe laws of nature that awaken our memories and echo in our souls.  

Shoko Aono