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O I TA’S A R T M O V E M E N T


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T WO ROADS DIVERG E IN A BA MBOO F ORES T: OITA’S ART MOVE ME N T

In partnership with the Oita Prefectural Government, TAI Gallery is proud to present the exhibition, “Two Roads Diverge in a Bamboo Forest: Oita’s Art Movement.” We are introducing for the very first time in the United States the artwork of master artist, Iwao Kounsai (1901–1992 ). Together with Shono Shounsai (1904–1974), Kounsai is considered to be one of the two most important and influential bamboo artists from Oita. Also being shown for the first time in America will be very rare works by two master artists Kounsai trained, Kadota Niko (1908–1994) and Maeno Koyo (1913–1983), along with baskets by Kounsai’s descendants, Iwao Honan I (1925–2002 ) and Iwao Honan II ( b.1955 ). Iwao Kounsai was a charismatic leader. He was not only an exceptional artist but also the moving force behind Oita’s flourishing bamboo craft industry for many decades by training others, organizing a craft union, and establishing a market for the local bamboo craftsmen. It was not until he was in his 70s that Kounsai gave up all his organizational responsibilities and focused solely on his art. Almost all of his major artistic creations were made during the last twenty years of his life. His majestic work, Quiet Ocean Waves, not only conveys his free spirit, but also vividly expresses the motion of waves and the light reflected on their crests. This is a basket of incredible power and energy. Kadota Niko and Maeno Koyo are probably the two most talented artists in the Iwao Kounsai lineage. Both are known as distinguished masters of the “Beppu Exquisite Quality Jar - shaped Art Basket.” This is the style of flower basket that made Beppu the center of Japanese bamboo crafts over the last several decades. Kadota Niko’s basket, which TAI Gallery will be showing, dates to the 1970s. Niko probably possessed the highest technical skills in Beppu’s art basket world and carefully crafted rather limited numbers of only the finest quality baskets. Towards the end of his career, Niko began to create free form, expressionistic baskets. The artwork in this show is one of the very rare examples of Niko’s later creations. This late emerging experimental

IWAO KOUNSAI

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Gentle Waves, 1975, 14.5 diameter x 15 inches


temperament was successfully passed on to the artists he trained. The most famous are the great modernist master, Monden Kogyoku, and Niko’s last student, Honda Syoryu, the creator of amazing futuristic bamboo sculptures. Maeno Koyo’s piece, on the other hand, demonstrates his exquisite signature Beppu style basket. Being a specialist in this technique, Koyo prepared nearly thread - like strips of bamboo several meters long, and wove them effortlessly into the many patterns you can find in this perfectly symmetrical large basket, the scale of which is quite rare. It is said that, in less than a month, he created this giant beauty! Among his peers, Maeno was respected not only for his impeccable technical ability, but also for his incredible working speed. Another notable student of Kounsai’s was Kanda Asao (1931– 2005 ). Unlike his contemporaries, who competed in national exhibitions with baskets meant only for flower arranging, Kanda devoted himself solely to creating a new style of utilitarian basket. His Scandinavian - inspired modern design style used the beauty of bamboo’s natural color and sparked the “New Craft” movement in Beppu, which has been extremely popular since the 1970s. Our exhibition includes Kanda’s signature Summer Basket. Another major lineage, one of artists working in sculptural forms, also defines the Beppu tradition. Many of the artists in this lineage will be familiar names if you have visited TAI Gallery or visited our booths at art fairs. Last year we had a blockbuster summer show entitled “Shono Shounsai and His Students.” It was definitely Shounsai who led the development of the non - functional sculptural tradition in bamboo art. Two of his students, Shono Tokuzo and Yamaguchi Ryuun, sent us brand new works for this exhibition. Shounsai’s right - hand man, Tanabe Kochikusai, created a masterwork for this show. Another major Shounsai trained artist, Abe Motoshi/Kiraku, sent us an earlier masterpiece which makes obvious his status as a major figure in Oita’s bamboo world. In the other functional basket tradition of Oita, we are showing a very rare example of the extraordinarily fine boxes made by Watanabe Shochikusai I (1900 –1985) and one of the last pieces made by his successor, Watanabe Shochikusai II, a lovely black and burgundy purse. Exhibiting for the first time at TAI Gallery will be Tiffany artist Watanabe Chikusei II’s very rare,1985 Japan Traditional Craft Art Exhibition work. As both the living Watanabes are now retired, this may be our last opportunity to show their work. Other contemporary artists have consented to take the challenge posed by exhibiting alongside these historic and iconic masters. Morigami Jin withdrew his masterpiece from the Beppu City Traditional Bamboo Craft Center and sent it to us for this exhibition. Honda Syoryu sent his most recent submission to the Nitten Japan Fine Art Exhibition. We will

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also be showing Kawashima Shigeo’s newest sculptures, his teacher’s, Okazaki Chikuhosai II’s, work, as well as exemplary artworks by Kajiwara Koho (Iwao’s last student), Kajiwara Aya, Yufu Shohaku, Kibe Seiho, Kawano Shoko, Sugiura Noriyoshi, Nakatomi Hajime and other talented artists. Last but not least, we will be exhibiting a line of contemporary bamboo jewelry — a collaborative project between the new generation of bamboo craftsmen based in Oita, and the internationally established jewelry designer Naoko Okamoto. We hope you will enjoy viewing this collection of unique masterpieces representing more than 100 years of Oita’s rich and diverse bamboo art history. ­n

Koichi Okada, TAI Gallery, August 2013

MAENO KOYO Untitled, 1973, 16.5 diameter x 16 inches

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Above: IWAO KOUNSAI Ridged Flower Basket, 1975, 11.5 diameter x 7.75 inches Left: IWAO KOUNSAI Sacred Bead, 1973, 12.5 diameter x 8 inches

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Above: IWAO HONAN I I Left: IWAO HONAN I

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Untitled, 1997, 15.38 x 13.38 x 11.38 inches

Untitled, Unknown, 9.5 x 7.88 x 6.25 inches


Above: KADOTA NIKO

Untitled, 1983, 13 diameter x 10 inches

Right: ICHIHARA KAUNSAI

Untitled, 1975, 13 diameter x 25 inches

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Above: WATANABE SHOCHIKUSAI I

Untitled, 1965, 4.5 x 14.5 x 11 inches

Right: WATANABE SHOCHIKUSAI I I

Untitled, 2011, 13 x 10 x 4.25 inches

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Above: KANDA ASAO Summer Basket, 1980s, 14 x 19 x 11 inches Top Left: WATANABE CHIKUSEI I I

Windmill, 1985, 2.75 x 17 x 13 inches

Bottom Left: ABE MOTOSHI /KIRAKU

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Wave, 1978, 2.5 x 16 x 11 inches


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Below: MONDEN KOGYOKU

Flower of Wave, 2007, 17 x 13 x 12.5 inches

Left: MORIGAMI JIN Jupiter, 2013, 17.5 diameter x 18 inches

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Below: SHIOTSUKI JURAN Coil, 1983, 10 diameter x 5.5 inches Right: KAJIWARA AYA

Flame, 2011, 12.63 x 11.75 x 9 inches

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Above: OKAZAKI CHIKUHOSAI I I Untitled, 2013, 11 diameter x 9.5 inches Right: KIBE SEIHO Fireworks, 2013, 8.5 diameter x 14 inches

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23 K AWANO SHOKO

23 Glow, 2012, 9.88 x 16.5 x 14.13 inches Evening


Above: SUGIURA NORIYOSHI Reincarnation, 2013, 16.5 x 25.63 x 15.75 inches Left: HONDA SYORYU Prominence, 2012, 28.38 x 22.5 x 14.13 inches

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YAMAGUCHI RYUUN Boat, 2013, 12.75 x 32 x 10.5 inches


Above: YUFU SHOHAKU Nine Layers, 2013, 22 x 21 x 19.5 inches Right: KAJIWARA KOHO Sun Light, 2013, 19.5 x 11.5 x 10 inches

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Above: TANABE KOCHIKUSAI

Flower Bud, 2013, 17 diameter x 16 inches (cover)

Left: SHONO TOKUZO Three Peaks, 2013, 11.5 diameter x 15.75 inches

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Above: K AWASHIMA SHIGEO

Expansive Space (Stardust Dream)

2013,11.75 x 20.88 x 9.88 inches Left: NAK ATOMI HA JIME Natural Prism, Triangle, 2010, 17 x 20 x 13 inches

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DEVELOPMEN T OF BAMBOO ART IN OITA PREFEC T URE

Oita Prefecture is surrounded by bamboo forest. This familiar material has been used as part of our everyday life for generations. Oita’s bamboo crafts, centered around the city of Beppu, developed as a government-sponsored local industry more than a hundred years ago in the late Meiji period (1868 –1912 ). Production of everyday objects expanded to making merchandise for small local industries which in turn encouraged bamboo craftsmen to create higher-quality products, eventually elevating the craft to artistic fabrication. The rise of the bamboo craft industry in Oita was made possible due to the popularity of Beppu as a hot springs resort. In the early Meiji period, it became a desirable destination for vacationers. The astonishingly high number of tourists stimulated the sales of locally made products. Oita’s using bamboo crafts as a way to promote and improve the regional crafts commerce was due to the Meiji Central Government’s policy of promoting Japan’s traditional crafts industry. In 1979, “Beppu Bamboo Craft” was designated as “Traditional Craft” by the Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry. It worked and helped further advance the development of Oita bamboo crafts. The success of Oita’s bamboo craft training relied on teaching and educating future craftsmen in a school setting. Arima, Hyogo Prefecture, was a well-known region for pro ducing high - quality baskets during the Edo Period (1603 –1868). In 1902, the Beppu/ Hamawaki Technical Apprentice School ( BHTAS ), the modern day Oita Prefectural Technical High School, was established in today’s Beppu. Recognized craftsmen from Arima were selected to teach at BHTAS to introduce sophisticated methods of crafting bamboo. Before it was established, bamboo crafts, such as food baskets and miso paste strainers, were made by farmers as a side business. Afterwards the craftsmen were able to use their basic basket-making methods as stepping stones to go from producing utili tarian ware to creating sophisticated flower baskets, block-shaped tea ceremony baskets, and bamboo stationery boxes. Oita bamboo crafts developed in many ways beyond the education gained in school. As the tourism in Oita stimulated the local economy, craftsmen migrated from Ehime Prefecture to Oita and introduced additional knowledge about bamboo crafts. Aside from schooling, disciples in those days lived and worked at their master’s house in trade for room and board until they mastered the basics of bamboo craft and were deemed independent.


Furthermore, some artisans from Oita traveled to the Tokyo, Osaka and Ehime areas to study sought - after Literati-style luxurious bamboo baskets. In a short span of time, from the late Meiji to the mid - Taisho period, Oita crafts surprisingly went from manufacturing utilitarian items to producing refined flower baskets, making the Oita region well - known for fine bamboo craftsmanship. In 1918, intricately woven flower baskets and bamboo fruit trays were entered into a prestigious craft exhibition called the Ministry of Commerce and Industry Applied Art Exposition. Since then, and until the early - Showa period, about 20 craftsmen exhibited at museums and various juried shows worldwide. The Japan Fine Arts Exhibition and the Japan Traditional Art Craft Exhibition were, and still are today, the established art shows in Japan. In 1940, Shono Shounsai from Oita was the first bamboo craftsman from this region to enter into such a prestigious exhibition. In the late - Taisho period, Shounsai studied under a well - known artisan who specialized in intricate bamboo weaving. In a short period of time, Shounsai developed and mastered his skills and began producing works that were artistic and beyond craft. His career flourished after the 1940s in the Japan Fine Arts Exhibition. Shounsai was ahead of his time in his thinking and creativity, expanding his artwork beyond the tradi tional crafts and producing works that were more about his personal expressions through sculptural forms. He was also interested in works that were more modern in design. In 1967, Shono Shounsai was honored as the first Living National Treasure in bamboo art. Since Shounsai’s passing in 1974, many bamboo craftsmen have followed his artistic direction, successfully exhibiting in the art shows. Traditional apprenticeships were no longer common, but the Oita Prefectural Bamboo Crafts and Training Support Center ( PBCT ) continued to teach new generations. The PBCT was very successful initially and many of their graduates entered exhibitions. However, around the time the Heisei period started in1989, interest in bamboo crafts from the general public faded away. This caused many of the artists to shift their focus from solo and group exhibitions to working with private galleries. After the year 2000, English, French and Americans started to show an interest in Japanese bamboo art. They regarded it as fine art, exhibiting pieces in their homes and galleries and donating them to major museum collections. I am very excited about the future of bamboo art given the possibilities of fresh artistic expressions by the new generation of bamboo artists. I am eager to see the continued development and expansion of ideas in the creation of bamboo art. n ­

Naoko Tomonaga, Curator, Oita Prefectural Art Hall

(Literal translation from Japanese) Back Cover: YONEZ AWA JIRO Untitled, 2013, 7.88 diameter x 27.13 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

Oita catalog 2013  
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