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RUDI MINEUR Netsuke : The Art Of Miniature Sculpture


NETSUKE

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“Netsuke to me are something far older than just the Japanese thing...�

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“People have been drilling holes in bits of wood and bits of bone for 50-100,000 years and a netsuke is just a decorated little knob on the end of a string. Japanese netsuke are absolutely fantastic but to make a netsuke that doesn’t relate to Japanese culture is totally valid to me. I make Australian netsuke that portray things about the world that I know, the Australian world. I go out of my way to portray Australian things because they are the best thing I understand… the natural world of Australia.” - Rudi Mineur

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RUDI MINEUR In 1991, inspired by the authoritative originality of the netsuke of Rudi Mineur, I wrote ‘I believe that netsuke as an artform has only just been discovered and that in the work of the contemporary carvers, particularly the non-Japanese carvers… we shall see netsuke… be recognized as a highly significant form of sculptural art.‘ (INS Journal Fall 1991) Since that time, there have been many developments in the netsuke world, and a current revival of interest is accompanied by astonishing international prices. I continue to hold the view that the work of non-Japanese artists significantly contributes to the reinvigoration of the artform, and that the unique work of Rudi Mineur is the platform for its transformation from a quirky manifestation of Japanese culture to a serious form of sculpture. Rudi Mineur is an artist of great intellectual and creative stature. His netsuke are original, innovative, even daring. His use of materials is bold and inspiring. As Japanese netsuke give physical form to the soul of Japanese culture, so do Mineur’s netsuke express the essence of Australia, albeit with an intellectual and philosophical depth addressing the enigmas of the universal human condition and the natural world. Born in Holland in 1945, the circumstances of Mineur’s post-war childhood had a strong impact on his attitudes, philosophy of life and ultimately on his art. His interests centred on fossicking in the bush for ancient treasures, hunting and trapping, and observing wild life. Migration to Tasmania in the 1960’s provided limitless opportunities to pursue and develop these interests. Later, employment as a museum technician at the National Museum of Victoria developed a serious interest in aboriginal culture, pursued privately after he commenced a freelance career.

Functionality is one of the prime reasons for Mineur’s adoption of netsuke as his means of artistic expression. The fusion of art and utility is at the core of his somewhat insistent philosophy of life unadorned; simple, uncluttered, candid– real. The discipline of form dictated by function is essential to his creativity. His perspective is that of a natural historian; minutiae of the natural world absorb him; basic elements of life, death, and reproduction are paramount; man is not separated from the exigencies of the natural world. Mineur is at one with a culture ‘where natural, earthy beauty can be at once respected and complemented’ and this is how he sees Japanese art. This attitude captures the dynamics of Mineur’s work, a harmonious interaction of nature and man where the integral character of the material is preserved, yet at the same time enhanced by artistic intervention. Inspiration for his work stems initially from the innate characteristics of the material: natural shape, colour, and texture. In his studio, in a large bark dish, is a mass of ‘lumpeys’, Mineur’s term for the fascinating variety of odd-shaped pieces of wood, stone, shell, bone and so on collected over a lifetime of bush and desert expeditions. These are the raw materials for an artist of startling originality, inspiring skill and intellectual depth. Lesley Kehoe BA MA FRAS

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THE RAINBOW SERPENT 2011 Australian Sandalwood Incised Signature 7 x 3 x 2 cm

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TRANSFORMATION A potent expression of the interdependence of man and nature echoing also the Shinto idea of ‘kami’ the spirit in all things. 2010 Wood : Australian Sandalwood Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 4.5 x 2.5 x 4.5 cm

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LUNCH! 2010 Wood : Eucalypt Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 7 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm

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BOARFISH : CAPROS APER ‘In these areas divers have witnessed giant boarfish rooting in the sand with their long snouts like a pig, hunting for their preferred food of crabs, worms, brittle starfish and sea cucumbers.’ (stuff.co.nz)

2010 Whale Tooth 8.5 x 2 x 2.5 cm Incised Signature

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OKAMI THE WOLF Embodiment of the wild; in Japanese mythology the guardian of the mountains; the yin and the yang of the spiritual guardian - one eye open, one closed. 2009 Wood : Eucapypt Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 7 x 3.5 x 6 cm

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ICONS OF OBSOLESCENCE Is man’s progress measured by cultural icons? The wisdom of the Goddess, the tribal totem and the 21st century iconic sneaker will all fade into obscurity. 2009 Wood : Australian Acacia 6.5 x 2 x 0.5 cm Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet

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MASTER Teacher, mentor, guru. The gatekeeper to a spiritual, mythical world.

2008 Wood : Australian Acacia Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 3.5 x 2 x 6.5 cm

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DRAGON 2008 Wood : Australian Sandalwood Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 5.5 x 2.5 x 2 cm

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MENAGERIE 2007 Wood : Australian Acacia Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 3.5 x 2.5 x 7.5 cm

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POMPEII ‘Many besought the aid of the gods, but still more imagined there were no gods left, and that the universe was plunged into eternal darkness for evermore.’ Pliny the Younger

2007 Wood : Eucalypt Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 5.5 x 2.5 x 3.5 cm

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SE(A)MEN’S TALE 2007 Whale Tooth Incised Signature 2.5 x 2 x 6.5 cm

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TREE SPIRIT FRIENDLY 2007 Wood: Melaleuca Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 3.5 x 2.5 x 6.5 cm

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OWLS 2005 Wood : Australian Sandalwood Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 3.5 x 2 x 7 cm

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WHERE IS BIN LADEN? 2005 Wood: Eucalypt Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 2.5 x 2.5 x 5.5 cm

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LULLABY A young girl is rocked to sleep but plagued by nightmares. Nonetheless she grows up healthy and strong. 2004 Wood : Australian Sandalwood Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 6 x 3 x 2.5 cm

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FLIGHTS OF FANTASY 2003 Wood : Australian Acacia Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 4 x 4.5 x 2.5 cm

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LITTLE PORKER 2003 Wood : Eucalypt Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 5 x 2 x 4 cm

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THE CLUTCHES OF DESPAIR 2001 Wood: Melaleuca Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 3.5 x 2 x 6.5 cm

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DUALITY Life and death, health and decay, are here presented as inseparable elements; the rat of the East and the rat of the West also represent duality - the Eastern rat a symbol of abundance, the Western associated with pestilence. 2000 Wood : Native Pine Knot Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 6.5 x 2 x 2.5 cm

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THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE With knowledge comes the warning of responsibility. The serpent was the gateway to knowledge and free will but there were consequences. In the Australian bushlands one is always wary of the hidden presence of the snake. 1998 Emu Leg Bone (one of three toes) Incised Signature 4 x 1.5 x 6.5 cm

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LOVEBIRDS 1995 Wood : Australian Sandalwood Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 6 x 4.5 x 7 cm

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OF THE ORDER OCTOPODA 1995 Shell : found object, inlaid mother of pearl Incised Signature 3 x 2.5 x 5 cm

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GENUS CANIS 1995 Wood : Eucalypt Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 5.5 x 2.5 x 3.5 cm

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MAN’S BEST FRIENDS 1992 Wood : Melaleuca Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 3.5 x 3 x 4.5 cm

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BIRTH AT THE TARN 1992 Wood : Eucalypt Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 2.5 x 2.5 x 5 cm

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A DIFFERENT WORLD VIEW : HOMELESS AND HAPPY 1992 Wood : Eucalypt Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 3.5 x 2.5 x 3.5 cm

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BABY ECHIDNA Using the corona of the antler, Mineur demonstrates his understanding and mastery of material. Antler is a particularly difficult material to carve and works using this are highly prized. 1990 Fallow Deer antler Incised Signature 4 x 2.5 x 4.5 cm

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ELDER 1990 Bufallo Rib : Stained Black Incised Signature 5 x 2.5 x 4.5 cm

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1899 : Politcal Cartoon, ‘Yellow Peril in all his glory’

YELLOW PERIL A particularly apposite comment on Australia’s history with its Asian neighbours and the political manipulation of the concept of the outsider. 1990 Wood : Australian Acacia Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 3.5 x 2.5 x 5 cm

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THE WALKING STICK As with many of the materials of Mineur’s carvings, this branch was collected on a desert foraging trip. In a living branch an insect had laid two rows of eggs. The plant reacted with the growth of extra tissue which formed ridges. The tissue was eaten by the growing larvae. A complex and lengthy treatment of the wood preserved and enhanced its natural beauty. 1989 Wood : Wattle with insect gall Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 3.5 x 2 x 12 cm

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WAR SHIELD This carving of an indigenous war shield represents the spreading of responsibility for a slaying. It has been created in miniature as an exact replica of its original using the same techniques – a kangaroo claw for the surface ridges and avian bones to repair battle damage. On the shield lies the kidney fat of a slain opponent ready to be ritually consumed by those involved in the killing. 1989 Blackwood, Mulga and Avian bone Signed : Inlaid Mother of Pearl Tablet 2.5 x 1.5 x 5 cm

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EXHIBITION CATALOGUE Lesley Kehoe Galleries Ground Floor 101 Collins St Melbourne Victoria Australia +61 3 9671 4311 gallery@kehoe.com.au www.kehoe.com.au

Published: Lesley Kehoe Galleries Author: Lesley Kehoe Design: Byron Bowman Kehoe Artwork Photography: David McArthur - Parallax Photography Studio & Outdoor Photography: Byron Bowman Kehoe Copyright Š Lesley Kehoe Galleries 2016 First Published 2013. All rights reserved. Except under the conditions described in the Copyright Act 1968 of Australia, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of Lesley Kehoe Galleries.

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Profile for Lesley Kehoe Galleries

Rudi Mineur : The Art of Miniature Sculpture  

Exhibition catalogue of Netsuke by Rudi Mineur

Rudi Mineur : The Art of Miniature Sculpture  

Exhibition catalogue of Netsuke by Rudi Mineur