One to Watch

Lauren Matsumoto creates metaphors for the cycle of decay and regeneration on Earth

The cycle of life–decay and regeneration–is the focus of Brooklyn-based painter Lauren Matsumoto’s works, which are a combination of painting, drawing, and collage. She meticulously layers imagery of organic flora and fauna with vintage manmade elements (cars, Victorian furniture, architecture from ancient civilizations), tracing the relationship between the two over time.

Lauren received an MFA from the School of Visual Arts and a BFA from Yale University. She has exhibited her works internationally, including in a solo show at Fabrik Gallery in Hong Kong, at the United States Embassy in Oman, and at the Art Complex Gallery in Tokyo, where she was the gallery’s competition winner. Her works have also been featured in numerous publications, including Fresh Paint Magazine, Domino, The Jealous Curator, and Aesthetica.

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?

Nature and how we relate to it is the central theme of my work. I use a hybrid form of painting, drawing, and collage as a metaphor for the ongoing cycle of decay and regeneration on Earth. In each work, I carefully build its history as layers of paint, hand-drawn and printed vintage ephemera, Victorian weaving patterns, barnacles, lichens, webs, or other natural elements combine. The paper scraps we leave behind as a civilization that I incorporate as collage elements address themes of transience, memory, and the passing of every era.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

A professor once reminded me to pay close attention to edges. In painting, edges are terribly important. Whereas a drawing can simply exist on the page–a blank surface– a painting is a construction of both the foreground and background at the same time. The edges of forms are where the foreground and background define each other.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?

I always work to music. I listen to an eclectic range of music from all eras and almost all styles- from Afro-Cuban Jazz to Classical to Vintage Soul to Electronica.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?

This is a difficult question for any artist to answer. To narrow it down: Pontormo’s Capponi Chapel at Santa Felicita in Florence, a beautiful sample of an 18th century French Toile textile, a Kurt Schwitters collage, or a Duchamp sculpture.

Who are your favorite writers?

Jeanette Walls’ The Glass Castle is my favorite recent book. I also love the work of British-Japanese author Kazuo Ishiguro, Norwegian author Knut Hamsun, and Brooklyn’s own, Joseph Heller.