Deborah Kruger

Japanese Bamboo Art

Japanese Bamboo Art

Breath by Honma Kazuaki, 1968


I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art just to see this exhibition, a collection of Japanese bamboo objects from the Abbey Collection. The show included a wide range of traditional basket forms as well as current work made by six artists designated Living National Treasures, who all evolved from bamboo lineages dating back to the nineteenth century.

It was fascinating to see how the conventional basket forms morphed into exciting abstract contemporary sculpture and installation. Most of these artists apprenticed with bamboo masters for 5 – 10 years and then developed their own distinctive styles.

Flowing Water by Honma Kazuaki, 1983

In many cases, the artists had day jobs in textiles, the flower trades and in one case as a gas station attendant until their work became recognized. Uematsu Chikuyu is a perfectionist who only produces one piece per year.

The most breath-taking artwork was an enormous installation by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV. Click on the link below to see a time-lapse video of the building of this incredibly inspiring piece.

One of the artists summarized the artist’s life: “In the vicissitudes of life, we twist and turn, go and return, but always we aspire to move forward.”

Installation detail
The Gate by Tanabe Chikuusai IV, 2017

Time Lapse Movie of Installation:

More information about the exhibition: