Emerging Artists from Oita


Emerging Artists from Oita
Emerging Artists from Oita
Japanese Bamboo & the World Expo:
A Century of Discovery
September 12 – December 6, 2015
Japanese Friendship Garden of San Diego, CA
In honor of the 1915 Panama-California
Exposition centennial celebration, TAI Modern
is thrilled to present the work of six select
artists from the city of Beppu, Oita Prefecture.
These talented young artists were chosen to
show their work alongside an expansive group
exhibition, Japanese Bamboo and the World
Expo: A Century of Discovery, at the Japanese
Friendship Garden of San Diego.
For nearly twenty years, TAI Modern (formerly
TAI Gallery) has exhibited Japanese bamboo
art in the United States and Europe with great
success, finding hundreds of passionate
collectors. The strong international response
to bamboo art has fueled efforts within Japan
to promote and nurture this unique creative
This is the third and final year of a project
sponsored by the Commerce and Service
Promotion Division of Oita Prefectural
Government. TAI Modern is very happy to lend
our encouragement and support to this vital
project. This year, the artists were challenged
to create artworks on the scale of a dining table
centerpiece in small editions of three, inspired
by the theme of the world’s fairs.
In 1999, TAI Gallery published Contemporary
Japanese Bamboo Art, the first of several books
on the subject. It featured twenty of the most
important living artists in the field. Within just
a few years of publication, this number was
fifteen. Today, twelve of the original twenty
are still alive and only ten continue to make
art. In Oita Prefecture alone, which for over
one hundred years has boasted the largest
concentration of bamboo craftspeople in Japan,
the number of people working with bamboo
has shrunk by over 90 percent since 1975. The
trend is brutally clear. With the artist population
sharply declining, insuring the future of this art
form has become a serious concern.
The Oita Prefectural Government is actively
promoting the field to ensure its long-term
vitality. Artists have also banded together to
help their cause. The Oita Bamboo Fine Arts
Association was formed to bring together both
traditional and more sculptural artists, and the
Beppu Bamboo Craft Union has looked after
artists’ interests for many years. Individual
masters, including Shono Tokuzo, Yamaguchi
Ryuun and Morigami Jin, have taken an active
role in encouraging the next generation of
bamboo artists.
For the last three years, TAI Modern has
joined in this collaborative effort to foster
emerging artists. This year, the results of the
project are promising: Amitani Hirokazu’s Fivestoried Pagoda, Hasegawa Kei’s Symbiosis, Ike
Masaya’s Warrior, Okada Akira’s Reincarnation,
Yamakawa Rika’s Connection, and Yoshida
Tasuki’s Jura were all inspired by the theme
of the world’s fairs. All of the artists deserve
congratulations. Standing next to these
youthful efforts are works made by the most
accomplished bamboo artists throughout
Japan since the birth of modern bamboo art in
late 19th century.
When the next generation of bamboo artists
steps forward to claim its place, we cannot
be sure how many it will number or what its
artworks will look like. But we will know we
have done all we could to ensure this next
generation of bamboo artists will be just as vital
and creative as the previous five generations
have been.