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T HE NE X T G E N E R AT I O N


In this catalogue the works of ten young “next generation” Japanese basket artists are featured as examples of contemporary trends in bamboo art. Selected artists include: HONDA SYORYU HONMA HIDEAKI ISOHI SETSUKO K AWA S H I M A S H I G E O KIBE SEIHO MIMURA CHIKUHO MORIGAMI JIN N A K AT O M I H A J I M E TA N A B E S H O C H I K U Y O N E Z AWA J I R O T H E N E X T G E N E R AT I O N

February 15 – March 18, 2007 Asian Art Museum of San Francisco Sponsored by Lloyd E. Cotsen Organized by TAI Gallery with coordination by Yoshiko Yoneyama, Tokyo Special thanks to Emily Sano, director; Deborah Clearwaters, Melissa Rinne, Yoko Woodson, Forrest McGill, Stephen Penkowsky, Cathy Mano, Nancy Kirkpatrick, Tim Hallman, Elizabeth Bachetti, Kazuhiro Tsuruta, Tom Christensen, and other Asian Art Museum staff members and volunteers too numerous to mention here. Catalog Design by Michael Motley Photographs by Gary Mankus


For better or worse, it seems to this outside observer of the art of the Japanese basket maker, the emphasis on a traditional response is loosening, thus allowing a flowering of individual artistic interpretation, direction, and innovation. However the discipline and links of these new artists to the old ways are secured by the mentorship of their teachers and by the power of their basket making heritage. Perhaps the western tendency to “push” future growth presents a challenge to Japanese values that have been integral to bamboo design, but it should also stimulate both the artists and the viewer. This “next generation” will almost certainly influence and motivate their peers. Following their developing careers is an adventure in growth and change for them as well as all of us who are interested in their work. Some of the most honored “living treasures” senior basket makers have nominated their choices for the rising stars of their art form. This ensures a continuation of the Japanese basket making tradition, albeit with the recognition that the future ultimately depends on the creativity of succeeding generations. In making these selections, the master basket makers assume an important role in assuring the continuance of the genre. Mentors understand and protect the tradition. The next generation, represented in this exhibition, seeks to bend, if not break, that tradition. These opposing aims create a wonderful dynamic that can be seen in Japanese society as a whole and here in the microcosm of bamboo basket development. Lloyd E. Cotsen


HONDA SYORYU ( b.1951) Honda crafts dramatic, undulating sculpture that demonstrates his fascination with line, volume, and space. Seamless lengths of braided bamboo, dyed in warm shades of tobacco, gold, and bronze, resemble leather or metal. The artist is a master at tight ajiro plaiting, a technique he has adapted from generations of Japanese bamboo box makers. A finalist for the Cotsen Bamboo Prize in 2000, 2002, and 2004, Honda’s work is now part of the permanent collections of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, San Francisco Asian Art Museum, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Mint Museum, and the Ruth and Sherman Lee Institute for Japanese Art. It has been said that bamboo vessels possess a contained beauty. Traditionally they have been made from the bottom-up, with bulging, voluminous bodies, and finished with tight rims. In the 1960s, Shono Shounsai made a sculpture he called Doto ( Raging Waves, in the collection of National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo) that ushered in the second wave of bamboo art. Fifty years later, his piece remains contemporary. Though he intuitively works with similar spatial themes, in recent years Honda Syoryu has established his own sculptural style. In a highly innovative process, he meticulously constructs tube-like forms and then contorts them in the service of his vision. In Revolution, the viewer can sense his expanding, explosive energy. – Shono Tokuzo

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Revolution 2006, 22 1/2 x 19 x 15 1/2 inches Collection of Brian O'Hea and Carlos Hatch


HONMA HIDEAKI ( b.1959) After an accident caused a loss of sight in one eye, Honma resigned from the Japanese air force. His uncle and adopted father, the esteemed bamboo artist Honma Kazuaki, had no heir so Honma, who loved to draw and work with his hands, stepped in to carry on the family’s bamboo business. His work is inspired by the abundant plant and animal life of his native Sado Island and is made of menya, a type of soft, pliable bamboo, that only grows there. Honma practices karate and tea ceremony and is an advocate of local culture. His work is included in the collection of the Ruth and Sherman Lee Institute for Japanese Art. In bamboo art, concepts can be expressed either by plaiting bamboo strips or by constructing parallel lines. Honma prefers the former, and with this method evokes the flexibility, geometry, and beauty of his material. His flared, undulating forms, made with “matsuba-ami” (a plaiting technique with pine needles pattern), are shaped with knots and the use of multiple planes. By combining smooth, delicate surfaces and dynamic knotting, he creates a sense of motion that seems to radiate into the surrounding space. His inventiveness animates his work. – Hayakawa Shokosai V

Knot 2006, 19 x 11 x 26 inches

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ISOHI SE TSUKO ( b.1964) Isohi Setsuko is one of only a handful of Japanese women to earn recognition in the bamboo arts. Born in Otawara City, Tochigi Prefecture, she has studied Ikebana flower arrangement and Sencha tea ceremony. Her desire to arrange flowers in her own baskets led to a class in 1997 with local bamboo teacher Yagisawa Tadashi. She has exhibited in the Tochigi Art Festival, Japan Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition’s Eastern Division and other venues and has won several top awards, including the Eastern Division prize. In 2003 she was admitted into Japan’s prestigious Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition and has since shown nationally. Offering trays are considered by the bamboo artists to be the most challenging. This tray by Isohi Setsuko rests quietly and delicately on a flat surface. Upon careful viewing, a breathtaking harmony between the materials and techniques in Isohi’s work emerges. The usage of two different plaiting techniques in the inner surface creates a visual pattern implying rippling water. The elegant handle is beautifully integrated with the body of the piece. Her choice of two warm tones of brown are reminiscent of old smoked bamboo. These subtle points are countered by fine rattan finishing knots on the rim and handle that make for an exceptionally beautiful composition. – Robert T. Coffland

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Festival of the Star Vega 2004, 16 1/2 x 111/2 x 5 3/4 inches


KAWASHIMA SHIGEO ( b.1958) The creator of large, outdoor, site-specific sculpture and small-scale models, Kawashima’s sense of adventure is inspired by Shono Shounsai, Japan’s first Living National Treasure in bamboo arts. A teacher at the Beppu Occupational School when he was only in his twenties, Kawashima has placed pieces in some 30 public locations throughout Japan, Europe, and the United States in the last decade, including the San Francisco Asian Art Museum, and exhibited in a dozen shows featuring emerging contemporary artists. His creativity and quickness to master new techniques have established his reputation as a leader of the next wave of bamboo sculptors. Known for his large outdoor sculptures, my attraction to Kawashima’s work began when he began expressing his ideas in portable pieces. In his work I see negative and positive space, defined by freshly cut, thin, flowing bamboo ribbons, punctuated by small, bow-like ties. The liberation and separation of space allows his designs to escape the restrictions of size, volume, and material. To me Kawashima’s work is akin to a spatial trapeze artist; he flies high to achieve an airy, light, and lyrical vision of bamboo in motion. Here is an artist on a new adventure, proving that less is more and more is less. – Lloyd E. Cotsen

Stream of Spirit 2006, 13 1/2 x 13 x 20 1/2 inches Private Collection

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KIBE SEIHO ( b.1951) Kibe was working as a gas station attendant when, in his thirties and despite his family’s objections, he quit his job to learn bamboo. Though he has no formal training, his work illustrates an intuitive sense of proportion and a mastery of complex plaiting suggestive of quilting. Recently he has expanded his traditional repertoire, moving strongly into the contemporary realm. The artist became a full member of the Traditional Craft Arts Association in 2000. Four years later he was a finalist for the Cotsen Bamboo Prize. His baskets are in the permanent collection of the Denver Art Museum and the San Francisco Asian Art Museum. In Echo, artist Kibe Seiho forges a delicately flaring hourglass-shaped vessel from straight strips of bamboo using the parallel construction technique of comb plaiting. The twisted body is highlighted with a soft gradation of color that suggests gentle undulation, an effect repeated in the wave-patterned twill plaiting on the underside of the base as well as in the lyrically spaced knots encircling the rattan-edged rim and base. Perhaps the title suggests the reverberations of a Japanese hourglass drum (tsusumi). Echo demonstrates this multi-talented artist’s intuitive grasp of the subtle interplay between form, color, and technique. – Emily Sano, Director, Asian Art Museum

Echo 2006, 7 inches diameter x 131/2 inches

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The Cave of the Son of God 2006, 18 x 10 1/2 x 18 inches Collection of Anthony and Kay Marks


MIMURA CHIKUHO ( b.1973) After studying classical trombone at a German conservatory, Mimura enrolled at the Beppu Occupational School, where he founded an association of young bamboo artists. After graduation his mentor, Yufu Shohaku, taught him a traditional rustic style of basketry that incorporates roots and whole chunks of bamboo. His contemporary sculptural vessels are based on this approach. Mimura has sidestepped Japan’s public exhibition system in favor of being an independent artist. He has demonstrated basket making for public audiences in Los Angeles, Santa Fe, San Francisco, and Naples, Florida, and was included in “The Next Generation” exhibit at the University of Arkansas. Mimura Chikuho uses a traditional technique called irregular plaiting (yatara ami), which was a hallmark of his first teacher, Yufu Shohaku. However he applies it in an innovative sculptural milieu, perhaps because of the influence of his present teacher, Honda Syoryu. In this work, with its tiny opening in a cavernous enclosure, Chikuho suggests one of Japan’s most famous creation myths. A minute beam of reflected light piqued the curiosity of the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, thus luring her out of self-imposed confinement in a rocky cave and restoring light to the world. The Cave of the Sun God evinces Chikuho's ability to use the bamboo medium to create modulated sculptural forms inspired by his culture and the world around him. –Melissa Rinne, Assistant Curator of Japanese Art, Asian Art Museum

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MORIGAMI JIN ( b.1955) Morigami is the son of bamboo artisans and among the most gifted of the younger generation of Japanese bamboo artists. A graduate of the Beppu School, he is credited with introducing a new style of basketry to the Beppu market. When his work debuted in America, he was so consumed with earning a living he had given up creating new pieces. But Western interest has breathed new life into his career. His innovative hexagonal plaited pieces are part of collections at the Denver Art Museum and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. In 2004, he was a finalist for the Cotsen Prize. In Flying Dragon, Morigami highlights the transparent effect of hexagonal plaiting and cleverly combines it with the simple creation of triangles from three interlacing strips of bamboo to fashion a beautiful sculptural form. Returning to the basics, he discovers new and wonderful ways to design his work. As the title of the piece suggests, Morigami’s spontaneity, imagination, and inspiration are the hallmarks of his art. – Katsushiro Soho

Flying Dragon III 2006, 15 1/2 x 13 x 27 inches

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The Sound of the Moon 2005, 17 1/2 inches diameter x 9 1/2 inches Collection of Dick and Holly Altman


NAKATOMI HAJIME ( b.1974) Nakatomi attended one of Japan’s top private colleges and was a serious ceramic student until he was lured by the beauty and versatility of bamboo. He attended Beppu Occupational School and apprenticed with Honda Syoryu. His interest is in quiet, delicate vessels that straddle the line between traditional and contemporary styles. A student of Sencha tea ceremony, his work has twice garnered the Oita Governor’s Prize and, in 2004, the Beppu Mayor’s Prize at the 40th Beppu City Bamboo New Works Exhibition. The youngest artist in this exhibition, Nakatomi has only recently begun to show at the national level in Japan. Nakatomi’s The Sound of the Moon, with its oblique line construction, exhibits originality. But the innovative designs and technical achievements of Melody Moon and Melody of Peach illustrate why he has been selected to represent the next generation of bamboo artists. The slightly raised and tightened lip, the combination of lines radiating from the rim, the parallel lines within, and the dark brown tones so suited to his traditional style, give this work extraordinary visual power. – Honma Kazuaki

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TANABE SHOCHIKU III ( b.1973) Like his father, Tanabe attended art school and earned a degree in sculpture. He is the chosen son, slated to become Tanabe Chikuunsai IV, representing the fourth generation of bamboo artists in his prestigious family. His signature is organic sculptural forms made with tiger bamboo and other natural materials which have been recognized with numerous accolades, such as the Mayor’s Award at the Sakai City Art Exhibition in 2001 and the Osaka Craft Exhibition Choice Award in 2004. He exhibits and demonstrates around the world and his work is housed at the Seattle Art Museum and Philadelphia Museum of Art. Recently Lloyd Cotsen donated one of Tanabe’s baskets to the Long Beach Museum of Art. In the Connection series Tanabe suggests a cellular chain of organic matter. He employs line and form to reference flow and energy. His special gift is his ability to extract the enchanted and often unseen strength of bamboo. This, combined with his philosophies and aesthetic perspectives, elevates bamboo from craft to a sculptural medium. – Nagakura Kenichi

Connection - Origin 2005, 321/2 x 28 x 251/2 inches

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YONEZAWA JIRO ( b.1956) A student of basket-making at the Beppu School and an apprentice to Ono Masakatsu, Yonezawa uses traditional techniques, among them a formal, symmetrical, tight weave and the looser, irregular weave characteristic of indigenous Japanese farming and fishing baskets. Working the inside and outside “skin” of his inventive pieces, he applies layers of laquer as well as powder ground from pine soot and other ingredients to fill the crevices. For the artist, basketry represents a search for beauty and precision in nature and a way of balancing the chaos of the times. His style combines the conventional methods of Japan and the unrestrained aesthetic of America. Yonezawa Jiro’s Jizo is exquisitely conceived and executed. His masterful design exploits the dimensionality of bamboo and its directional weave, along with the material’s patina, depth of surface, and the space achieved by crisscrossing thick and thin plaited bamboo strips to create a form rich in metaphor. Simultaneously a cache, cocoon, vessel, and womb, Yonezawa’s rendering bespeaks a journey through which the line of the woven bamboo symbolizes neither a visible beginning nor end. His homage to Jizo Bosatsu is apt in form, concept, and technique. The artist captures the spirit of Jizo’s many roles, among them the protector of children, expectant mothers, and aborted and miscarried babies. – Mark Richard Leach, Founding Director and Chief Curator, Mint Museum of Craft + Design

Jizo 2005, 321/2 x 28 x 251/2 inches

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Next Generation Catalog 2005