'Before Dawn' by Yohta Matsuoka

Yohta Matsuoka (b. 1978) is a Japanese artist based in Tokyo. He began his artistic career in 2004 through live painting, in an effort to capture the street culture scene of Japan. Drawing on abstract expressionist composition techniques involving patterns and wall painting, Yohta has produced large-scale murals in various places in Japan and overseas with his dynamic and skilful works.

Through this series of paintings Matsuoka carefully considers his subjects composition and whether objects can become an entity in their own right, different from their original form.

“When COVID forcefully put a brake on all our social lives, it seemed to me as if the clock stopped ticking; the world has lost its colour. All the wonderful things started to appear monochrome. Our daily connections with people seemed to have been lost. Only time seemed to progress, the hours of the clock ticking away in vain. I felt the need to respond in some way to this new colourless, motionless world; the idea came to me of placing one of the simplest objects, a sphere on a blank plane. Next, I placed an apple, a symbol of wisdom. Then I placed a banana, a symbol of Pop Art. Lastly, I placed a stick, a symbol of the first tools used by mankind.

Placing those simple yet symbolic objects generated some kind of reaction within me. And as I observed these objects from afar, I started to see a human face in the positioning of the objects. It became something like a reminder that this is Before Dawn; that the sun would soon rise once again in a world where in which time had stopped and the colour had drained away.

By applying this pre-dawn time stamp to a world wherein time had ceased to exist, the darkness slowly started to fade to light, reminding me of a starry night   sky. The sphere came alive; playful with a mind of its own. The remnants of the old have slowly begun to regain colour. The new world is now moving forward to a new day that is filled with hope once again.”

—Yohta Matsuoka