Although woven bamboo containers have been used in Japan for thousands of years, it is only during the last century that basketry has emerged as a prestigious art form. From its roots in imitations of Chinese baskets to today’s sometimes extravagantly expressive sculptural works, Japanese bamboo art is an astonishing demonstration of the variety that can be achieved from one of east Asia’s most abundant natural resources.
Often seemingly simple, these baskets require years of training and months of work to complete. Through careful selection of raw material, intricate, contrasting woven patterns, inventive forms, and meticulous finishing that celebrates the natural qualities of bamboo, Japan’s basket makers have created a little known but compelling artistic universe. The exhibition includes works by Iizuka Hosai and Iizuka Rokansai, who worked from the 1920s into the 1950s, and Shono Shounsai (1904–1974), the first bamboo artist designated a “Living National Treasure.”