CRAFTS AND ART
In Japan, craftsmanship is part of ancient traditions and is socially treated as something close to the sacred, just as the Emperor is a son of the Sun. The figure of the master, within this culture, is greatly admired, worshiped and, at an extreme of traditionalism, almost canonized. The master craftsman is understood as an icon of excellence, an authority on his subject, someone capable of taking a tradition to its highest stage of development and prestige. The tradition of making and serving tea, of creating and wearing the kimono, of making paper, ceramics and building temples in wood that is not nailed, glued or screwed, but all fitted with fittings.
Hokusai was an artist-craftsman, one of the greatest icons of this culture. A seminal author, he was a notable reference for the European artists who created Modernism in the 19th century. Hokusai was a woodcut master craftsman and that was how he put himself. In the Japanese tradition and in the Tao teaching, art is intertwined with its doing and craftsmanship is the technology that, mastered rigorously, allows the master to reach the supreme.
It is in this context that Jun Matsui's tattoo must be understood. A technical development with such excellence that the authorship, the invention, the signature, humbly accommodate behind the artisanal process.
It's not just a speech. Matsui was trained in tattooing, as every tattoo artist still is trained to this day: living with masters, doing internships in workshops, exercising practice in tune with reflection, doing and doing to exhaustion, seeking to master the technique, respecting traditions, reaching the supreme stage of artisanal knowledge so that, only then, the personal trait of the artist would emerge, humbly and naturally.
Living and working in Japan for about ten years, Matsui captivated an audience loyal to his solid black design, with precise, geometric and organic graphic abstraction. He imbued his career with a strong dynamic, becoming one of the most respected professionals in the world, the original author of a new aesthetic, neither folk nor traditional, nor tribal nor new tribal. Something that has no other signature than yours.
If at times his drawing approaches the figurative, such as the representation of an animal or a dagger, most of the time, he is abstract and geometric. In his work as a whole, one can see a strong formal rigor in the exploration of the support-body, in the tracing of precise lines and in the reconfiguration of human forms through the masses of paint that are distributed to them. His tattoos occupy the body, recomposing the human figure in new shadows and lights.
LUZ - Life Under Zen, a timbre created by Brazilian Jun Matsui for his studio and brand in Tokyo, reflects the thinking behind the technique. With LUZ, Matsui proclaims the independence of his design, as the greatest generator of all the energy that is embodied in design, graphic art, photography and jewelry, supports that best represent the artist that exists beyond the tattoo artist.
Matsui does not see himself as someone who is enlightened and has a special artistic gift. When he is praised, saying that he is one of those who helped raise tattooing to the level of art, Matsui does not boast. He considers exaggerated the theories created around his name, such as the one that says that by tattooing only his own drawings, the artist would have created a new model of relationship with clients, more authorial and artistic. He prefers to answer that he only tattoos that way because he doesn’t know how to do it any other way and that, “if I knew how, I would tattoo in other styles, I would tattoo whatever was asked of me, without the slightest problem”.
“I'm not a tattoo artist who lives this job 24 hours a day, I don't have this as a lifestyle, I'm curious and want to feel free to explore any other path that interests me”. Matsui explains that when he went to Samoa – an island in the Polynesian archipelago – for a period of experience and exchange with local tattoo artists, he realized that there, tattooing is intertwined with everyone's routine and is not something dissociable from customs and everyday life. It's not an artistic issue, it's first and foremost the common.
The film “Jun Matsui”, directed by Andre Ferezini, presents the human side of the tattoo artist, his thoughts spoken aloud, captured in different places, such as in his studio during a tattoo session or riding a horse in his house in the mountains. The imagery that surrounds the tattoo artist is presented by Ferezini in situations that merge everyday life and special moments, work and leisure, doing and thinking.
Matsui's creative process is complex: constant research associated with the everyday laboratory, aesthetic formality tempered by empirical knowledge, technique honed by practice. The film accurately captures the way these relationships take place, through the chain of scenes that bring us closer to the artist's intimacy interspersed with images that contextualize the inspired results of these processes.
OF CRAFTSMANSHIP AND ART
(text written by Baixo Ribeiro)
In Japan, craftsmanship is part of thousand-year-old traditions and is socially treated as something close to sacred, as the Emperor is the son of the Sun. The master, in this culture, is much admired and worshipped, and in an extreme of traditionalism, practically a canonized figure. The master-craftsman is seen as an icon of excellence and authority in his area, someone capable of taking tradition to its most elevated stage of development and prestige. The tradition of making and serving tea, of creating and wearing a kimono, of making paper, pottery, and the construction of temples with wood and boards that are not nailed, stuck or screwed together, but instead set to fit.
Hokusai was an artist-craftsman, one of the main icons of this culture. A seminal author, he was a marking reference for the European artists who in the 19th century created Modernism. Hokusai was a master woodcut craftsman, and that's how he placed himself. In the Japanese tradition and in the teachings of the Tao, art is one with its making, and handicraft is the technology, which rigorously mastered, allows the master to reach the supreme.
It is in this context that the tattooing of Jun Matsui must be understood. The development of such excellence in technique, that the authorship, the invention, the signature place themselves humbly behind the craftsmanship process.
This is not just about discourse. Matsui made himself in tattooing as every tattooist still does to this day: by interacting with masters, interning in workshops, exercising the practice in synchronicity with reflection; doing and doing over again to the point of exhaustion, looking for dominion of the technique, respecting traditions, reaching the supreme stage of knowledge in craftsmanship, so that only then, would the personal line of the artist appear humbly and naturally.
Living and working for about 10 years in Japan, Matsui has captivated a group of followers who are loyal to his solid, black drawings, his geometric, organic and precise, graphic abstraction. He imparted a strong dynamic on his career, making himself one of the most respected professionals in the world, the original author of a new aesthetic, not folk, not traditional, not tribal, not new tribal. Something that has no other signature besides his own.
If there are times when his drawing seems figurative with the representation of an animal or a dagger, most times it's abstract and geometrical. Strong, formal rigor can be observed in the bulk of his work, in the exploration of the body as support, in the precise lines and in the reconfiguration of human forms through the mass of ink which is distributed upon them. His tattoos take up the body, recomposing the human figure in new shadows and light.
LUZ - Life Under Zen, a hallmark created by the Brazilian Jun Matsui for his studio and brand in Tokyo reflects the thought behind the technique. With LUZ, Matsui proclaims the independence of his drawing as the main generator of all the energy that is embodied in design, graphic arts, photography and jewelry; supports that better represent the artist that exists beyond the tattooist.
Matsui does not see himself as an enlightened person or as the bearer of a special, artistic gift. When he is praised, and people say that he is one of those that have elevated tattooing to the level of art, Matsui does not boast. He considers the theories created around his name to be exaggerated, like the one that says that because he only tattoos his own drawings, the artist has created a new form of relationship with his clients that is more authorial and artistic. He prefers to answer that “he only tattoos this way because he doesn't know how to do it any other way, and that if he knew how, he would tattoo other styles, he would tattoo whatever people asked him to, with no problem at all.”
“I'm not a tattooist who lives this life 24 hours a day. I don't see this as a lifestyle. I'm curious and I want to feel free to explore any other path that may interest me.” Matsui explains that when he went to Samoa - the island of the Polynesian archipelago - for a period of interaction and exchange with local tattooists, he noticed that tattooing blends in with the routine of everyone there, and it is not something that is dissociated from the customs and day-to-day life. It is not an artistic issue, it is above all else, the mundane.
The film “Jun Matsui”, directed by Andre Ferezini, presents the human side of the tattooist, his thoughts expressed aloud, collected in several places, such as his studio during a tattooing session or horseback riding on his ranch in the hills. The immaterial which involves the tattooist is presented by Ferezini in situations which blend routine and special moments, work and idle time, doing and thinking.
Matsui's creative process is complex: constant research associated with the day-to-day laboratory, aesthetic formality seasoned with empirical knowledge and technique honed by practice. The movie is precise in capturing the way in which all of these relations are tied together, through the connection of scenes which bring us closer to the intimacy of the artist, intertwined by images that contextualize the inspired results of these processes.
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