TAI Modern at Asia Week New York 2023
March 16-24, 2023
23 E. 67th St., 4th Floor @Colnaghi
TAI Modern returns to Asia Week New York 2023 with both contemporary and historic bamboo works from over 30 bamboo artists working in a broad range of styles and techniques.
TAI Modern continues to honor the vital contributions of generations of traditional Japanese bamboo basket making and contemporary Japanese bamboo art. Through an exploration of the work, the exhibition charts the history of this rich tradition and traces the ways in which contemporary Japanese bamboo artists challenge the boundaries of this demanding artform.
madake bamboo, rattan
10.5 x 15 x 8 in
In 2012, Fujinuma Noboru was named a Living National Treasure, a designation bestowed by the government of Japan recognizing him as a “preserver of important intangible cultural knowledge.” Fujinuma has a long history with innovation in the creation and exhibition of his works. His early interests were photography and engineering, but at 27 he returned home from a trip abroad determined to master a traditional Japanese artform. Shortly thereafter, he quit his job at Nikon to apprentice with bamboo basket masker Yagisawa Keizo. Over the next six years he developed an artistic language and refined his technique, and in 1992 he received the Tokyo Governor’s Prize at the 39th Japan Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition. That winning piece was purchased by the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo. Since then, his work has been shown in numerous exhibitions and art museums, and notably featured in solo shows in 2011 at the Art Institute of Chicago and 2005 at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Los Angles. TAI Modern will be mounting an exhibition of Fujinuma’s recent work in the summer of 2023.
Madake bamboo, rattan
14.5 x 21.5 x 21.25 in
Honda Syoryu spent his early career making traditional bamboo flower baskets. Despite his mastery of both open weave and ajiro plaiting and compelling explorations of line, volume and space, the lack of interest in high-end bamboo works among Japanese collectors forced him to spend most of his time filling wholesale orders for simple flower baskets.
In 2000, an American supporter agreed to support Honda financially for two months so he could devote his energies to creating a work of art for a public exhibition. The result was the artist’s first work of sculpture - Dance. Dance was not only radical departure from Honda’s previous work but also the start of a new career direction and an ongoing series of sculptural works. Honda says, “Dance was my first attempt in creating an objet d’art. The final form was beyond my imagination. I consider this Dance series to be a representative work that changed my subsequent style.”
Sacred Fire, 2020
madake bamboo, rattan
2.5 x 18.25 x 18.25 in
Honda Seikai was born in 1982 on Sado Island. This makes him one of the youngest artists represented by TAI Modern. He enrolled in the SADO School with a bamboo art major, where he was taught by bamboo artists Honma Hideaki and Kawano Shoko. After graduating in 2009, Honda became an apprentice to Hatakeyama Seido. Since then, his contemporary designs and skill with both fine plaiting and thousand-line construction have earned him many accolades, including the Emerging Artist’s Prize from the 60th Japan Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition in 2013. His prize-winning piece was purchased by the Imperial Household Agency. Honda was also part of the group show Ten Thousand Flowers at TAI Modern in 2021.
Two Wheels, 2009
madake bamboo, rattan
8.5 x 14 x 14 in
Kajiwara Koho was born in Kamitsue, a mountain village in Western Oita prefecture in Southern Japan. He was good with his hands, so as a young man Kajiwara apprenticed under respected Beppu basketmaker Iwao Kounsai for ten years.
Two Wheels features Kajiwara’s signature color palette and is woven with hietsu-plaiting, a technique of the artist’s own invention. Kajiwara has taken the tradition of apprenticeship and the passing down of knowledge as a core tenant of his artistic practice and has taught many students across different skill levels. His works are held in the museum collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Imperial Household of Japan, the Beppu City Museum of Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among others.
He says, “Resilience and the beauty of the plaited surface is what I consider the uniqueness of bamboo art. I have tried to express the natural beauty of Japan through bamboo, and I would like to continue doing so.”
Red Dragonfly, 2019
madake bamboo, nemagari, and rattan
8.75 x 16 x 16 in
Inspired by the change of season from summer to autumn, when the red dragonflies leave the mountains and return to the plains, Kawano Shoko has made an exquisitely balanced basket with an inner wall of open ajiro plaiting, line construction for the outer wall, and a delicate off-set handle made of skinny bamboo. Many of the artist’s vessels are simple at first glance, but like Red Dragonfly, the work’s sophistication reveals itself in the continued exploration of its detail. Red Dragonfly conveys a sense of being both transparent and solid at the same time.
Kawano says "I try to express my creativity mostly within the vessel form. However, I think sculpturally. My consciousness moves from lines to planes, from planes to three dimensionalforms, and from three dimensional forms to space. Bamboo is most beautiful standing in a grove that is being swayed by the wind. What can I add to something that is already beautiful?... I can express myself through this medium and continue asking the same questions, as long as someone tells me that they see beauty in my work."
Connecting Diamonds, 2020
madake bamboo, rattan
13.5 x 10 x 10 in
Kibe Seiho was born in 1951 in Oita Prefecture on Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost major island. Although his birthplace is only about 20 miles west of Oita’s long-time center of bamboo art, he took a circuitous route to a life in bamboo.
He was working as a gas station attendant when, in his thirties, he decided to quit his job to live a more meaningful life through artistic creation. His parents had expected he would take over the family farm and were not happy when Kibe enrolled at the Oita Prefectural Bamboo Craft and Training center in Beppu.
Kibe’s work demonstrates an intuitive sense of proportion and design and highlights his ability to produce dazzlingly complex plaiting, such as the reverse-chidori plaiting on view in Connecting Diamonds. His baskets exude an understated elegance that belies his personality, which is gregarious, earthy, and funny.
Kiln-foaming cast glass
5.75 x 7 x 7 in
Kojiro Yoshiaki >began his career as an architect at Tokyo University of Science. In his thirties, after experimenting with foamed glass as an architectural material, he decided to make a career change and became a glass artist. His scientific, regimented approach has led him to create work that captures the textural movement of glass, seemingly frozen in time.
Kojiro’s work has been featured in many solo, duo, and group exhibitions since 2001. His recent awards include an honorable mention at the LOEWE Craft Prize, the Ropez International Prize, and the Bavarian State Prize at the Internationale Handwerksmesse Munich.
This process includes grinding glass into a fine powder, combining it with foaming agents, firing it in a kiln, and rapidly cooling the glass. While this process is strictly regimented, the shape of the final product is left up to chance. “My work is to present a product that is formed by the interaction of glass, tiny bubbles, heat, and gravity. It is my greatest interest to extract structure from this process, and through my works, I hope to emphasize suggestion rather than description.
Wave Path, 1994
madake bamboo, rattan
10 x 39.25 x 15.75 in
Torii Ippo was the first son of the bamboo craft artist Torii Hounsai, and he began his career at 21 after inheriting the family business upon his father’s death. He taught himself by making copies of his father’s baskets.
In 1959, Torii visited an exhibition of pieces housed at the Todaiji Temple in Nara. At the time, he was feeling unsure of the whether he had the talent for bamboo. He recalled, “I remember how that day my eyes stopped at a bamboo basket that was said to have been used as a flower basket for the memorial service of Emperor Seimu in 757 A.D.”
He continued, “The basket was rather flat-shaped, and it had remained in perfect condition for over 1,200 years. Its power instantly charmed me. That moment determined my career as a bamboo artist.”
Torii was often selected as a judge for public art exhibitions in Japan, and he had demonstrated bamboo art in Germany. His pieces are in collections at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, the De Young Museum and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, and the Nishio Cultural Center, to name just a few.
Flower Basket with Handle, 1926
black bamboo, rattan
20 x 8 x 8 in
Wada Waichisai II was said to be weak and delicate at birth. He was born in 1877 but did not begin studying bamboo until around 1896. This was out of the ordinary for successors of an artistic lineage in Japan, as many children begin their training when they are children or young adults. As a result, he had less than a decade of experience when his father passed away and he assumed the artist’s name of Waichisai.
A prominent feature of Wada Waichisai II’s work is his frequent use of black bamboo. Black bamboo grows in a range of color from a warm speckled brown to dark purple to nearly ebony. Artists therefore do not need to solely rely upon dye to achieve rich coloring when using black bamboo. The natural irregularity of the surface color further adds to the visual interest. Black bamboo is more flexible than the traditional timber bamboo, so Waichisai II was able to create interesting textures and forms by twisting and contorting the material. Waichisai II was certainly one of the earliest artists, if not the first, to use this unique species for basket making. Waichisai II was also one of the first artists to use undyed blond-colored madake bamboo, dating back to 1916, — a direct departure from his father, who spent considerable time and effort learning special dye techniques.
Waichisai II’s sophisticated sense of form and relaxed plaiting indicate a mature aesthetic of understated beauty. The pliability of black bamboo allowed Waichisai II to twist flat strips of bamboo around a basket’s verticals like a climbing vine, creating a weaving effect that no one had seen before.
Crossing: Tower, 2022
madake bamboo, rattan
25 x 14 x 15.5 in
Watanabe Chiaki worked as a social worker at Japan's Red Cross Hospital for fourteen years before pivoting to bamboo art in 2007. He moved to Sado Island and attended the newly created school for bamboo artists under Honma Hideaki and Kawano Shoko. After graduation, Watanabe continued to explore the sculptural side of bamboo under the mentorship of Honma and, later, of Matsumoto-based artist Honda Syoryu. Watanabe uses bamboo almost as a line drawing, casting shadows and creating space within thin strips that are delicately attached to one another. This translucency and lightness to his work has led him to achieve many accolades, including winning the Governor’s Prize at the 48th Modern Craft Art Exhibition in Niigata and the Best Young Artist Prize at the 15th National Bamboo Art Competition in 2011. He has pieces in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the David Woods Kemper Memorial Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri. Watanabe has shown in shows at TAI Modern, including the Sado Contemporary Show with Honma Hideaki in 2012 and Winter Shadows in 2020.