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F U J IN U M A NOBORU


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ART IST STAT E MEN T In this new series, I focus on perhaps the most notable feature of bamboo, the nodes (fushi), by utilizing a technique of multiple layers of lacquer. Fushi in my language also means “milestone” as in the events that demarcate the stages of life. This new body of work is a personal milestone. The labor over the past two years was intensive and, at the same time, also a very joyful and satisfying process. Every piece of bamboo is different and selecting lengths of the right diameter, curvature, and spacing of the fushi was key to my inspiration. In the forest I might look at one hundred mature bamboo plants before finding one which suited my vision. I would cut it down and thus the process began. I cut into the bamboo and sculpted its surface and over many months time applied more than one hundred layers of color-added natural lacquer. I would then sand back through the layers to expose the artwork’s hidden beauty. The dialog between the fushi and me guided the creation process and was much more direct than I have ever experienced before. Answers were everywhere. I simply needed to eliminate the self and seek them. By revealing the hidden anatomy of the nodes that our eyes cannot see from the outside, I hope to share with the viewer my experience of looking for answers about life. ­n

Fujinuma Noboru, July 2013

Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 248, 2013, 20.75 x 4 inches

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Madoka ( A Complete Circle ), 2012,15.5 x 5.5 x 4.5 inches (detail at right)


Small Boat 2013, 15.5 x 25 x 10 inches


WHEN I FIRST MET Living National Treasure Fujinuma Noboru in 2008 in Japan, his vivacious personality was a delight. With infectious enthusiasm, Fujinuma gave me a tour of his studio after which we had tea in the artwork display space of his home. There Fujinuma had examples of his work from the past thirty years. I especially liked the unique rim on a recent basket. Fujinuma placed it next to one he had completed ten years before. The older piece was a gorgeous full - bodied basket with a flat rim. The newer piece was similar in shape, but with a wonderfully balanced sculpted rim. I could not comprehend how the flat - rimmed basket led to the elegant piece. My expression must have been one of confusion because Fujinuma went on to share the story of the process that marked a major technical development in his art. Fujinuma set out to create a rim inspired by Noh theater masks. The mouth of the mask forms two concave curves with a peak at the top and bottom where the arcs meet. Constantly experimenting he incrementally moved to a curved concave shape. He built up the edges by half an inch with every piece he made learning and adapting his techniques to push his idea forward. Looking at the bamboo artworks throughout the room I could then see the incremental progress in the various basket rims. They could be lined up chronicling the evolution of an idea into technique like recorded time on a sandstone cliff in northern New Mexico. I was astounded by Fujinuma’s dedication to ten years of arduous work to bring one idea to fruition. This same perseverance and subtle evolution culminates in his recent body of bamboo lacquer artworks. Intense colors with glowing reds grab you when you first encounter his newest series. These works transform an accessory for flower arranging, the otoshi, into an art object. The otoshi is the traditional bamboo vase containing water and flowers which is placed inside a flower basket. Many bamboo artists continue to provide an otoshi with the baskets they create. Never has the bamboo flower vase been a featured object until Fujinuma challenged this idea with his lacquer bamboo work. Fujinuma has experimented on and off with lacquered bamboo over the past two decades with his efforts culminating in this stunning body of artwork. The objects in his 2013 show are his first deep exploration of this process, consuming all his creative energy for the past two years. Utilizing the natural structure of the bamboo, Fujinuma

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selects sections of the plant with unique qualities. After careful study of the bamboo culm on which he is working, he makes several fluid cuts forming the artwork foundation of the piece. He then begins the laborious work of applying up to one hundred coats of 100% all -natural lacquer. When the drying time between coats is considered, a single bamboo lacquer vase can easily take nine months to create. Vibrant colors are achieved through a study of color theory and an inquiry into painters’ practices of building rich colors by layering complementary colors over one another, imbuing the top layer with a glowing radiance. Building layers consisting of blacks, blues, and greens beneath layers of luscious reds, Fujinuma creates a stratum of color enhancing the richness of the outermost coat of lacquer. With a delicate touch he works through the layers of color by carving and sanding them, excavating shades and patterns which create a complex surface that captures and delights the viewer. Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 240 ( page 18) and Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 257 ( page 23) are graceful with delicate lines. In order to create these, Fujinuma selected bamboo with character that he poetically revealed. Dark lacquer on the solid bases of these pieces contrasts with splashes of yellows, greens, and blues which peek through the middle of the vases, and deeper colors play off the ladder - like structure. Strong verticals bring to life the surfaces of some, such as those pictured on page 20. Leaving more of the carved surface intact, with bright colors remaining in the lower recesses, the composition moves the viewer’s eye to the negative space of the opening. The elegant proportions of the cut holes frame the dark interior creating a harmonious visual tension that sings. Bamboo art in Japan elevates the practice of basket making to the level of fine art. Fujinuma accomplishes the same by elevating the otoshi with his adaptations of form and saturated layers of color. His recent creations are striking objects that bring a new conversation to the bamboo art dialog. n

Everett Cole, July 2013

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Left: Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 252 2013, 21.75 x 4.5 inches

Right: Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 253 2013, 21.75 x 4.5 inches Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 243 2013, 28 x 4.5 inches Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 249 2013, 19.25 x 4.25 inches

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Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 250, 2013,19.5 x 4.75 inches Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 240, 2013, 31.75 x 5.5 inches Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 251, 2013, 23 x 4.5 inches (detail at right)


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Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 240, 2013 31.75 x 5.5 inches

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Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 251, 2013 23 x 4.5 inches

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Right: Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 256 2013, 24.5 x 3.75 inches

Left: Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 255 2013, 22.25 x 4.5 inches Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 256 2013, 24.5 x 3.75 inches Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 253 2013, 21.75 x 4.5 inches

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Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 247 2013, 24.75 x 4 inches

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Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 257 2013, 20.5 x 4.75 inches

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Above: Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 250, 2013,19.5 x 4.75 inches Left: Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 252, 2013, 21.75 x 4.5 inches

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Above: Dream, 2005, 15 diameter x 9 inches Left: Spring Light, 2010, 12.5 x 12 x 10.75 inches

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FUJINUM A NOBORU Living National Treasure of Japan 1945

Born in Otawara City, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan

1976

Apprenticed to Yagisawa Keizo

1977

Admitted to the Japan Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition, Eastern Division (thereafter admitted 24 times) Admitted to the Musashino Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition (thereafter admitted 4 times, winning one award)

1980

Admitted to the Japan Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition (thereafter admitted 19 times)

1981

Received the Art Festival Award at The Tochigi Prefecture Art Festival

1982

Solo Exhibition: Utsunomiya Ueno Department Store, Utsunomiya, Japan

1984

Became full member of Traditional Craft Arts Association

(received awards in three subsequent festivals)

Solo Exhibition: Kichijoji, Tokyo, Japan 1985

Received the Chairman of Craft Arts Association Prize at the 33rd Japan Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition Received the Traditional Craft Arts Association Tokyo Division Award at the Japan Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition, Eastern Division

1988

Judge at the 28th Japan Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition, Eastern Division

1990

Received Encouragement Award at the 30th Japan Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition, Eastern Division

1991

Judge at the 31st Japan Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition, Eastern Division

1992

Winner of the Tokyo Governor’s Prize, 39th Japan Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition

1994

Judge at the 6th Japan Traditional Craft Arts Wood and Bamboo Exhibition Judge at the 41st Japan Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition

1996

Judge at the 7th Japan Traditional Craft Arts Wood and Bamboo Exhibition

1999

“Bamboo Masterworks,” Asia Society, New York

2000

Finalist, Cotsen Bamboo Prize 2000 “Bamboo Masterworks,” Asian Art Museum, San Francisco

2001

“Bamboo Masterworks,” Honolulu Academy of Art, Hawaii Solo Exhibition: Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi, Tokyo, Japan

2002

“The Next Generation,” The University of Arkansas, Little Rock Group show, The Tigerman Himmel Gallery, Chicago


2002

Solo Exhibition: TAI Gallery, Santa Fe

2003

“Three Views of Bamboo: Fujinuma, Nagakura, Shono,”

Public demonstration, Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe Kansas City Jewish Museum, Overland Park, Kansas “The Classic Japanese Basket,” TAI Gallery, Santa Fe 2004

“Bamboo in Japan,” The Morikami Museum, Delray Beach, Florida Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Arts group show, Hand Workshop Art Center, Richmond, Virginia

2005

Awarded the “Purple Ribbon” by the Japanese Congress for lifetime achievement in the arts, presented by the Emperor of Japan Solo Exhibition: The Japan/American Cultural Center, Los Angeles “Weavers of Wonder,” Naples Museum of Art, Florida

2006

“Hin: The Quiet Beauty of Japanese Art,” Grinnell College, Iowa “Hin: The Quiet Beauty of Japanese Art,” Chicago Cultural Center Group Exhibition: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

2007

“Intertwined: Contemporary Baskets from the Sara and David Lieberman Collection,” Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe “Listening to Bamboo: Japanese Baskets from the Collection of Ritalou & Robert Harris,” Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

2009

“Intertwined: Contemporary Baskets from the Sara and David Lieberman Collection,” New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe “Form Follows Function or Does It?,” University of Arkansas at Little Rock “Listening to Bamboo,” Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

2010

“Intertwined: Contemporary Baskets from the Sara and David Lieberman Collection,” Museum of Art and Design, New York City

2011

Solo Exhibition: “Fujinuma Noboru: Master of Bamboo,” Art Institute of Chicago

2012

Named “Living National Treasure”

2013

Solo Exhibition: TAI Gallery, Santa Fe

Museum Collections: Art Institute of Chicago; British Museum, London; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Denver Art Museum; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco; Clark Center for Japanese Art & Culture, Hanford, California Right: Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 244, 2013, 28.5 x 4 inches Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 246, 2013, 25.25 x 3.75 inches Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 245, 2013, 25.5 x 4.5 inches Back Cover: Bamboo Lacquered Cylinder 249, 2013, 19.25 x 4.25 inches


TA I G A L L E R Y 1601 B Paseo de Peralta Santa Fe, NM 87501 505.984.1387 www.taigallery.com


Fujinuma Noboru 2013