Matsumoto, Shunsuke (松本竣介, 1912–1949) By Tsunoda, Takuya
Matsumoto Shunsuke was an oil painter and essayist active in the years up to and through the Pacific War. His best-known paintings, most of which feature figures in urban landscapes, include several self-portraits such as Standing Figure (1942). Matsumoto contracted spinal meningitis at the age of eleven, which eventually led to the loss of his hearing, an event that steered him towards the career of professional artist, and encouraged him to become immersed in reading and the literary arts. Later, it also rendered him ineligible for the draft. At seventeen he dropped out of high school and moved to Tokyo, where he studied oil painting at the Pacific School of Fine Arts (Taiheiyô Bijutsu Gakkô) for three years. In 1935 he became a member of the avant-garde NOVA Art Society, the first of several exhibition collective and artist groups in which he would participate. Other groups including the Nikakai, the Nine-Room Society (Kyûshitsukai), and the Newcomers Painting Society (Shinjin Gakai). Like Ai Mitsu, Asô Saburô, and others with whom he associated, Matsumoto expanded his style to accommodate expanded Japanese interest in Abstraction and Surrealism during the 1930s, but he largely retained his interest in painting intimate portraits, set in non-idealized cityscapes, throughout his career.