MODERN TWIST:
CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE BAMBOO ART

May 30–August 30, 2015

An exciting international exhibition, Modern Twist: Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art featured the work of professional bamboo artists living in Japan, whose evocative, sensual, and sculptural pieces explore innovations in bamboo art since the mid-twentieth century. The artworks were chosen by Dr. Andreas Marks, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, from the collections of the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture in Hanford, California. It was traveled by International Arts and Artists, Washington, D.C.

To more closely tie Modern Twist to our collections and mission, at the Grace Hudson Museum we added 12 Pomo baskets to accompany the 38 Japanese art pieces on display. Taken from our own holdings, and those of other lenders, the Pomo baskets provide interesting similarities and contrasts to their Japanese counterparts. Both basketry traditions are world famous, and mastering them requires decades of meticulous practice in harvesting and preparing native plant materials, and in constructing finished pieces. Modern Twist featured examples of both Japanese and Pomo pieces by master weavers that together span over one hundred years of textile arts.

Bamboo is a quintessential part of Japanese life, and its emergence as a sculptural art form has religious and cultural roots. The Japanese have used this extraordinarily strong and flexible grass for centuries–for everything from functional objects to ceremonial baskets, and for the vases, tea scoops, ladles and whisks that serve an important place in the Japanese traditions of flower arranging (ikebana) and tea gatherings (chanoyu and senchadō). It is a challenging medium, with less than 100 professional bamboo artists in Japan today.

Modern Twist brings 17 of these artists to North American audiences, including two men deemed “Living National Treasures” by the Japanese government in recognition of the excellence of their work. These National Treasures–Katsushiro Sōhō and Fujinuma Noboru–are joined by visionary artists Matsumoto Hafū, Honma Hideaki, Ueno Masao, Uematsu Chikuyū, Nagakura Ken’ichi, Tanabe Chikuunsai III, Tanabe Yōta, Tanabe Shōchiku III, Tanioka Shigeo, Tanioka Aiko, Honda Shōryū, Mimura Chikuhō, Nakatomi Hajime, Sugiura Noriyoshi, and Yonezawa Jirō.

It was a rare opportunity at the Grace Hudson Museum to experience groundbreaking levels of conceptual, technical, and artistic ingenuity both in bamboo art, and in the striking examples of our own local Pomo basketry.

The exhibition was generously supported by the E. Rhodes & Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Nomura Foundation, Japan Foundation,
Los Angeles, and the Snider Family Fund.