When I first came across a couple of images of these works, I thought they were real city captures using a tilt-shift filter. Little did I know that these are, in fact, fairly normal photographs of paper cities, meticulously crafted by New York-based artist Yumiko Matsui. The skillful artist, who hails from Osaka, Japan, uses her native land as inspiration for her miniature world, mimicking the busy shopping centers, traditional streets, and illuminated riverside.
The city models may technically be “miniature” but there is a lot going on in each piece. I think the precision and detail is what initially threw me off into believing it was a real city that had an illusionary toy-like aesthetic. From the vehicles and locomotive chugging across the cityscape to the food stands and traffic lights lining the streets, there is an unbelievably precise execution to each scene. The characteristics of each display shines brightly. Matsui says of her work: “If you had ever been to any of the cities I have created in miniature, you might actually feel sentimental! If you have never been to these cities, I want to give you a preparatory experience!”
Matsui’s original direction in art was abstract and surreal illustration, where she says she had a tendency to focus on “the line between light and dark, black and white, good and evil…etc.” but has since changed her course of artistic attention. Upon moving to New York City, there was a longing for home that swelled within her and, thus, came her paper dioramas of her hometown of Osaka. The artist’s sculptural paper works, though intricately detailed, are simple in their construction, requiring a modest set of materials–colored paper and glue.