Artist Reiko Matsuo looks for surrealism in everyday life. Her subjects are familiar: a man scoffing a TV dinner next to his cat, a girl dancing in her room (also with a cat), a curtain-twitcher spying on sunbathers with binoculars, all depicted in chirpy acrylics with comedic expressions. Some get a little weirder, such as the family surrounded by woodland creatures, and another family calmly watching a tiger on their kitchen table.
“I like to create stories that give people a little chuckle in conventional life,” says Reiko. “As character is everywhere, I find lots of stories and inspiration in daily life. I’m capturing one moment of it in my paintings, hoping the viewer can feel the humour and liveliness of the scene.”
Reiko grew up in Tokyo and studied graphic design at Tokyo Zokei University before turning to painting as an aside to her graphics work. Since then she’s exhibited her artworks several times in Japan, and now works between Tokyo and London, in the latter with agency Artschool. She says her international work has influenced the diversity of her characters. “I’ve started exploring different ranges of skin colours for my characters, to show a variety of ethic groups. As Japan isn’t really a multi-ethnic country, it wasn’t part of my illustrations before.”
Influenced by David Hockney’s colour, Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python animations, and artists Tomoo Gokita and Jockum Nordström, Reiko’s work is joyfully naive and bizarre, with block colours and warped perspectives. She’s recently been commissioned by Oh Comely magazine, capturing Kanye West and Led Zeppelin, and more of her original paintings will be on show in The Brick Lane Gallery until 20 August as part of exhibition Works on Paper.