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Ezekiel Taylor
Ezekiel Taylor

Masterpieces Of Japanese Bamboo Art


Ever since our first New York exhibition in 1998, we have regularly presented exceptional examples of Japanese basketry, but this is the first time we have also prepared a publication dedicated to the art form, which documents 30 masterpieces from the first half of the 20th century.




Masterpieces of Japanese Bamboo Art



Hin celebrates the work of 37 modern Japanese bamboo basket makers. Included are two essays, one discussing Japanese baskets as an art form, and another on bamboo collecting in the west. Photographs illustrate the stunning detail of each piece. Also included is an index of artists and their biographies.


Tall, oval shaped bamboo flower basket for large flower arrangements. Resting on a chrysanthemum-plated base, the vessel's wall were plaited in mat-style with a perfectly even egg-shaped form, finished with a combination of a thinly split regular stripe of bamboo and open-work pattern and a mouth made of a ring of intertwined natural bamboo stems. Also the handle is made of three separately fixed and then intertwined natural bamboo stems.


Using a classic Chinese model of bamboo basketry though, Hayakawa Shōkosai III added some significant, more informal Japanese details by using natural bamboo. The Hayakawa family is regarded as the founding fathers of modern bamboo art in Japan, since Hayakawa Shōkosai I (1815-1897) is said to be the first one who started to sign his works in 1856. His fifth son, Shōkosai III, followed the footsteps of succeeding the family business due to the premature death of his elder brother, Shōkosai II, in 1905. Specialists agree, that he played possibly the most important role in "broadening the expressive capabilities of bamboo, and departed much further than his father from Chinese models." (Earle 2018, 17) With his flexible organic style he exerted an immense influence on later bamboo art.


Bamboo is present in nearly every aspect of traditional Japanese life, yet Japanese bamboo art, with its refined beauty and technical sophistication, has been little known in the West until recent years. This publication provides an overdue introduction to these exquisite works, which represent a cultural tradition stretching back hundreds of years. The works illustrated and discussed are exceptional for their broad representation of many notable bamboo masters, and highlight key stages in the modern history of Japanese bamboo art.


This basket for serving food or sweets (morimono-kago) is signed and dated to winter of 1926 (Taishō hei'in chūtō). It is therefor a very rare early work that shows already the ripe talent of the young Shōkosai. Resting on a flat hexagonal woven base, the walls where knitted by finely split bamboo stripes in twill plating. The handle is attached by two benched and twisted young bamboo stems which gives the otherwise strict Chinese appearance of the basket a more informal, Japanese note.


The Shōkosai line is regarded as the founding fathers of modern bamboo art in Japan and Shōkosai IV had the important role not only to save the traditional craft though the turbulent times of world war II, but also to revive the business in the days after. After the war, Shokōsai IV decided to move the family business to Kyōto and to focused mainly on making baskets for green tea ceremonies (both sencha and chanoyu).


The art of Japanese bamboo basket is experiencing a renewed interest by public and collectors. The Naej Collection is especially strong in works by leading artists from 1850 to 1950, when great craft dynasties were established and first Osaka and then Tokyo emerged as major centres of artistic basketry.


Looking East features more than 170 artworks drawn from the acclaimed collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, with masterpieces by the great Impressionist and post-Impressionist painters Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas and Paul Gauguin, among others. The art and culture of Japan inspired leading artists throughout Europe and the United States to create works of renewed vision and singular beauty.


Approximately 500 background images selected from masterpieces of various genres such as science fiction, everyday things, and fantasy are included. From the early works of Bamboo to recent works, it is a collection of 15 years of history.


And there are little scraps of paper on which Chinese of Japanese artists sketched tiny fragments of life centuries ago. Perhaps it was a piece of moss or a snail crawling up a bamboo. Whatever it was, it was so lovingly drawn and sensitively placed on the paper that its livingness was caught and contained within a few lines and tones -- and was then released momentarily to me as I viewed the sketch.


If the purpose of art is to create magnificent masterpieces for museums, I would say, yes, there are more important things to paint. But if the purpose of art is to enrich human sensibilities, to give voice and expression to human experience, vision, adn thought, well then, i would say no, there aren't any more important things to paint. And I would add anything that causes us to look more closely, experience more intimately, or probe more persistently the world around us is valuable and good.


Art Antiques London (AAL) is another phoenix to rise from theashes of Grosvenor House. Also in its second edition, the 2011 event (9-15June) incorporates the International Ceramics Fair and Seminar, and has beenbusy recruiting overseas. Newcomers include New York's Erik Thomsen, whospecialises in Japanese screens and scrolls, early tea ceramics, ikebanabamboo baskets and gold lacquer objects. Santa Fe's TAI Gallerysimilarly presents bamboo art, as well as textiles and contemporaryphotography. Italian dealer Granocchia Fine Art swells the ranks of thejewellers (Western and Indian) that are a feature of the fair this year.


The heaven of modern humanity is indeed shattered in the Cyclopean struggle for wealth and power. The world is groping in the shadow of egotism and vulgarity. Knowledge is bought through a bad conscience, benevolence practiced for the sake of utility. The East and the West, like two dragons tossed in a sea of ferment, in vain strive to regain the jewel of life. We need a Niuka again to repair the grand devastation; we await the great Avatar. Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.


To European architects brought up on the traditions of stone and brick construction, our Japanese method of building with wood and bamboo seems scarcely worthy to be ranked as architecture. It is but quite recently that a competent student of Western architecture has recognised and paid tribute to the remarkable perfection of our great temples.6 Such being the case as regards our classic architecture, we could hardly expect the outsider to appreciate the subtle beauty of the tearoom, its principles of construction and decoration being entirely different from those of the West.


When a tea-master has arranged a flower to his satisfaction he will place it on the tokonoma, the place of honour in a Japanese room. Nothing else will be placed near it which might interfere with its effect, not even a painting, unless there be some special aesthetic reason for the combination. It rests there like an enthroned prince, and the guests or disciples on entering the room will salute it with a profound bow before making their addresses to the host. Drawings from masterpieces are made and published for the edification of amateurs. The amount of literature on the subject is quite voluminous. When the flower fades, the master tenderly consigns it to the river or carefully buries it in the ground. Monuments are sometimes erected to their memory.


The park area embraces several major sights, including Tenryu-ji Temple, founded in 1339. The main temple of the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism, Tenryu-ji is a UNESCO World Heritage Site surrounded by tranquil Zen gardens and bamboo forest. 041b061a72


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