Gallery Girl Meets Miki Matsuyama

Miki Matsuyama

I recently became interested in Four You Gallery because of its mission to promote female artists to a global audience, and its commitment to championing women working within the mainstream art market. I was particularly interested in Miki Matsuyama’s work – whose recent show From Door To Door just opened online – because of how she chooses to depict interiors and, since we’ve all been stuck indoors recently, I just had to speak with her.

Gallery Girl by Amira Hasan

GG: Hey Miki, Four You Gallery told me you have a background in interior design, how did you get into that?
MM: I’m in interior design school right now in Tokyo. Recently I quit my job in real estate. Now I’m spending my time at school and drawing.

GG: How did you become interested in interior design?
MM: Since I was young I was very conscious about my surroundings. Whenever I went to restaurants I would think about the surroundings. I don’t know when I noticed, but I’ve liked it since I was young. I finally decided to pursue that career recently. I completely changed my direction.

GG: I’m going back to school in September too. I think the pandemic made me think if I don’t do this now, then I’ll never do it. Do you think the current situation pushed you to go back to study?
MM: Yes, I think corona and everything made me stay home and gave me more time to draw and paint and be more creative. I quit my job when corona happened and I had a lot of time. I was able to focus on my creativity. When I was working for a real estate company the culture was very domestic. Everything I did was sales and writing emails. It wasn’t creative at all. Initially I joined the company because I like interior design, I like seeing nice houses. So, I guess I did learn quite a lot.

GG: And it follows that interior design has fed through into your artwork…
MM: Yeah, and I guess drawing and painting interior design images is also a way for me to study the space. I’m learning about famous interior designers and what they created, I’m recreating it in my own brushstrokes. It lets me study their space and colour.

GG: I guess with interior design you can’t recreate it physically all the time, because nobody has that kind of space or money…
MM: Exactly, so it’s nice to make it into something of my own. Living in Japan it’s very rare for me to see the spaces that I draw. Although it’s not a physical interior design space, having that image is nice too.

GG: Actually, I never thought about that before, but you’re right, different cultures have different interiors…but besides interior design do you have other influences too?
MM: My grandmother is pretty into art as well, she’s been drawing for a long time. My mother and grandmother both do ikebana, so I feel like I have been surrounded by creative people. Ikebana is a Japanese flower arrangement, I’ve been learning since I was young. In a way I want to combine my interior design, creating art, ikebana and real estate. Everything I do has to do with space. With ikebana as well, it’s something you put in space. I want to incorporate everything together.

GG: So what is going to be in Door to Door?
MM: All of the works are images of interior design. The title means that even though you’re in one space, as you’re looking at each painting you’re kind of going from door to door. It relates to my real estate background as well, going from door to door selling houses. All the images are inspirations found through magazines or Instagram, they’re the sources I learn from.

Miki Matsuyama’s studio

GG: Do you have a favorite interior designer or style? Or is it random?
MM: One of my favorite interior designers is called Pierre Yovanovitch
There are two designs from him in the show.

GG: It’s cool that you use Instagram as a reference too…
MM: Yeah. I guess in my everyday life there is no day that I don’t use Instagram, which is the same for a lot of young people too. It’s a good way to get inspiration because it’s limitless and I can find images from all over the world and I can stay connected and be up to date with trends. I can also see what people like and what people don’t like.

GG: And I guess now when we can’t travel it’s a really good source…
MM: Exactly, and it’s nice to be updated. But at the same time, I know that I can’t depend 100% on Instagram. I get most of my new inspirations from the “explore” page but I feel like it feeds me images that are catered to me. So, I guess Instagram creates a bubble of images that I want to see.

GG: Yeah, the algorithm knows what you like…
MM: Exactly, so I also need to go see the places physically and go to bookshops and read magazines. I can’t just depend on Instagram.

GG: Right, So it’s important to go places when you can…
MM: Yeah, I found this quote that says through social media and online connections people tend to be pulled into similar directions aesthetically. I completely agree with that. The posts with most likes are most easily seen on people’s screens, so people are pulled into the same direction. I don’t want to be drawn into too, but it’s quite hard not to be.

GG: I know, you have to physically go out of your way to not follow everyone else. So, when this exhibition is over, what are your artistic hopes for the future?
MM: I’m going to keep on painting while I’m in school. Right now, I’m basically copying interior designers’ work and putting it into my own paintings, but in the future when I’m able to design my own place I want to be able to create everything from scratch from my imagination, so that’s my end goal. I’m still quite new to this, so I’m learning from the designers and their designs.

: It’s so cool, I hope you’ll be able to build something physical and we’ll all be able to see it.

From Door To Door runs online via Four You Gallery throughout August

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier aka Gallery Girl is a writer and curator based in London. Her work has been featured in publications including Dazed, Hyperallergic and Vogue Arabia. She was curator of Perpetual Movement during AWAN Festival 2018 and in 2019 had a residency at the Lab at Darat Al Funun in Amman, Jordan. She has also worked with Armenia Art Fair for its inaugural edition and previously worked as an editor at I.B.Tauris Publishers. In 2019 she co-founded Arsheef, Yemen’s first contemporary art gallery. She has given workshops at Manara Culture in Amman, Jordan and Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK. As of 2020 she is currently in law school, with the ambition of greater understanding the intersection between art and the law.

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