MATSUMOTO is an exhibition of recently uncovered paintings by the art forger Mari Matsumoto, organised by artist Amy Stuart as a continuation of her research into Matsumoto’s activities and history.
Matsumoto emigrated from Fukuoka, Japan to Melbourne in the mid-1980s, where she began working at an art restoration and framing business in Collingwood. Until her disappearance in 1999, she is known to have produced dozens of forged oil paintings, focussing particularly on the Australian Impressionist Frederick McCubbin. While not all of these were successful — including those exhibited in MATSUMOTO — a significant number are known to have been certified as authentic and entered into circulation on the art market, as well as the collections of various major institutions such as the National Gallery of Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria.
While some of Matsumoto’s forgeries have been uncovered, an unknown number remain at large. As long as these paintings are considered genuine, they continue to slowly cement their “legitimacy” as they are written into scholarship, archives and public discourse. In recent years, however, a growing understanding of the scope of Matsumoto’s activities has destabilised the foundations of McCubbin’s entire oeuvre — leaving collectors and institutions uncertain about the authenticity of their works.
Stuart began her research into Matsumoto in 2019. In 2022 Stuart and Doreen Landis-Lee presented Making a Name for Herself: The Forgeries of Mari Matsumoto at Monash University, and Props at Seventh Gallery. In 2023, Stuart co-wrote “A History of the Lang Family” — an examination of a primary source detailing an encounter with Matsumoto — with art historian and PhD candidate Emily Morel published by un Magazine in Issue 17.1: RESIST.