Sketching a spiky ode to recovery
This article is from 2009.
Never before has cancer looked so cute. But then, it’s the gift of artists to transform the brute chaos and fear of everyday life into objects of delight. This is what Japanese graphic artist Mio Matsumoto does with My Diary. On the surface it’s a lightly scrawled flip-book of scenes from a young woman’s life, until you notice the images of drips, nurses, needles and bodies. Matsumoto has sketched a comic ode to the tongue cancer she discovered in February 2002, which was treated during five months in hospital. Her stay was enlivened with enemas, pain and a hot doctor.
Matsumoto traces her recovery through her spiky, stark images, which transform the banal lines of hospital rooms and medics’ coats into tableaux of scratchy wryness that never descend into infantilism. That should be no surprise: Matsumoto is an international illustrator who studied at the Royal College of Art and currently works in Tokyo. And My Diary is a neat corrective to those tomes which transform cancer into a grand philosophical chance to consider life, the universe and everything. Instead we have a sketch of Matsumoto kneeling, hands clasped, gazing at a star, imploring, ‘God, please give me a chance’. Well, he did. And she triumphed.
15 Aug 2009, 2.30pm, Charlotte Square Gardens, £9 (£7); 15 Aug, 5pm, Charlotte Square Gardens, Edinburgh, £4.