Matsumoto, Kunizo untitled, 1997-1998 felt-tip pen on paper 26,2 x 12,4 cm © photo credit Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne
Kunizo Matsumoto was born in Osaka, Japan. He worked as a dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant run by his relatives. At the same time, from 1985 to 1988 he attended a creative workshop for the mentally handicapped, where he started to become interested in calligraphy. Matsumoto was fascinated by the notes that the staff at the establishment wrote in little notebooks and attempted to reproduce them, even though he had never learnt to write.
Subsequently, Kunizo Matsumoto developed his own personal written work, which he has continued since 1995 in an artistic workshop for the mentally handicapped. Using a brush, he obsessively copies ideograms from the numerous types of printed matter (calendars, tourist guides and catalogues of painting exhibitions) which he collects and piles up in his room. Very frequently he transforms them or invents new ideograms from them.
His favourite subject is Kabuki. He gathers together all documents concerning this form of traditional Japanese dramatic art, as well as everything dealing with the tea ceremony. He then studies these texts in meticulous detail before launching himself into writing, feverishly covering entire pages of exercise books, calendars and other supports. He never goes out without taking a plastic bag, as well as his backpack and belt-bag, filled with printed documents on which he draws.