For her solo exhibition at PAPER, Rui Matsunaga presents a new series of drypoint etchings. The series, Mystic Lamb and Silicon Prophets references Van Eyke’s Ghent altarpiece, The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. Van Eyke depicts the sacrifice of the lamb as a vision of the Apocalypse representing all man’s earthly sufferings before the coming times of truth and beauty. Matsunaga appropriates this narrative to highlight our looming environmental crisis.
Matsunaga’s work combines a Western Christian discourse alongside Japanese Shintoism that believes in an interconnected world comprised of nature spirits weaving a divine fabric that deserves our respect. In the Western Anthropocene world, the human is at the centre of the world and has a divine right to exploit nature, whereas in Shintoism, everything expresses a spiritual essence so that man is not at the centre. The question of who is suffering in the context of climate change existentialism leads to a new understanding of reality and our relationship with nature.
The six new etchings that make up the series, explore our current fascination with bio/gene technology, as well as questions of divinity in this digital age. The title of the show alludes to Yuval Harari’s theories on techno religions & silicon prophets, in which the dawning of sentient AI will lead to question what is to be as a human being. The etchings themselves are inspired by Durer’s famous woodcuts, The Revelation of St John and old Japanese scroll paintings (emakimono), especially the Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga from the 12th century. They are visually woven with animism and possess an ambiguous sense of story-telling.
About Rui Matsunaga
Rui Matsunaga is currently based in Japan. Matsunaga graduated from Royal Academy of Arts School in 2002. She was recent exhibitions include Into the Wild Abyss, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter. Matsunaga was one of the finalists for John Moores Painting Prize 2012, and she was included in the Celeste Art Prize 2007 and Lexmark European Painting Prize 2003. Her work is in the Collection of University of Arts London, Museum of Senegalia Italy, and The Mag Collection. Matasunaga’s work has been featured in the following publications: Painting Now by Suzanne Hudson Published by Thames and Hudson in 2015 and Painting People by Charlotte Mullins Published by Thames and Hudson in 2006. Three works from this series have been purchased for the V&A Collection.