“Repetition” by Ken Matsubara presents the Tokyo artist’s latest reflections on his lifelong theme of collective and personal memory, which are brought to life through integrated video clips and innovative installations.


Snapped up by the forward-thinking Blueproject Foundation in Barcelona’s chic Born district, Matsubara’s first exhibition in Spain runs until the 9th March.



The inauguration begins. White walls are scattered with audiovisual installations. Hundreds of lenses with fading photos glimmer as they catch the Barcelona sunshine. An installation of small televisions repeats a wave of books falling in a domino effect. Matsubara softly presents his work, his elegant Japanese demeanour exuding sharp intellect and profound sensitivity.


In a few words, what is “Repetition”?


Life is repetition; we keep repeating a question without an answer, fluctuating between the past and future. These videos inside objects capture the movement and flow of this memory.


You’ve exhibited in the United States, Tokyo, and all around Europe; have you noticed cultural differences in the reactions to your work?


Of course people have different reactions, but what’s interesting is that there’s so often the same reaction. For example, I shared my first experience by the ocean in “Winter Dreams – Tide.” When I was 3 years old I felt the ocean’s strength below my feet, pulling me down as I sank into the sand, and I was so afraid of being drowned. Everywhere I talk about this people have said they have the same memory. I’ve realised that we all have some of the same memories, I think they’re in our DNA.


Why do you think that some people look at your video “Storm in a Glass” and simply see water sloshing from one side to another inside a glass, whilst others make associations that take them on a deeper journey?


It can be cultural, for example in Japan the most immediate association that comes to most people’s minds would be the devastating tsunami of 2011. It might also evoke a universal and primordial memory of fluctuations inside the womb. My works explore the possibilities of stirring up memories that reside in the depths of each person’s consciousness.



We can’t help thinking that your works also suggest that humans are unable to learn from the past. Are we on the right track here?


Well perhaps I’m being idealistic, but if we manage to reconnect with these primordial memories then perhaps in the future we’ll be able to overcome the limits imposed by our culture, history and individualist society…


Are there any other contemporary artists who you feel your work resonates with?

Yes, several, such as Christian Boltanski. He has a partly Jewish background; he also explores memory and the past.


If you could only use one colour for the rest of your life, which would it be?


A grey colour, grey tones have so much depth.


Do you consider there’s any connection between your art and the fashion world?


Yes, I’ve been very influenced by fashion design and fashion culture. I think art has a relationship with fashion, interior design and architecture. We’re all influenced by each other. I’m also inspired by architects like ô from Japan


What are your plans for the immediate future?


I have an exhibition in Toronto, Canada, in February, and another in Uruguay next year.



Repetition by Ken Matsubara.