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Evocative Japanese bamboo art at Bellevue Arts Museum
Tanabe Chikuunsai III, Squares and Circles, 2005. Bamboo (yadake), rattan, lacquer. Photo: Forrest Cavale.

BELLEVUE, WA.- Bellevue Arts Museum, the Pacific Northwest’s center for the exploration of art, craft and design, is pleased to announce Modern Twist: Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art, an exhibition exploring the innovative shape bamboo art has taken since the mid-twentieth century. With rare wall-hung installations and pieces never before seen in the United States, Modern Twist brings one of the most vibrant cultural art forms to the forefront of the international art world. The exhibition will be on view at Bellevue Arts Museum from November 13, 2012 through February 3, 2013.

Bamboo art is a unique Japanese phenomenon. As early as the eighth and ninth centuries, bamboo objects were used in Buddhist rituals, tea ceremonies and ikebana (Japanese flower arranging), and became important features of these traditions. Though it might be less widely extolled as a decorative art than Japanese ceramics and lacquer, it is a highly demanding medium that requires years of study under the tutelage of a bamboo master. Bamboo artists learn how to harvest the bamboo themselves, to properly process and manipulate the materials and to excel in numerous plaiting techniques. In addition to technical knowledge, a true bamboo artist also infuses his work with unique and creative concepts and ideas.

Featuring a stunning collection of 38 works by 17 contemporary artists, Modern Twist demonstrates that in the hands of a master bamboo artist, a simple grass is transformed into sculptural art. These bamboo masters have challenged aesthetic conventions by experimenting with non-functional, sculptural forms, and have pushed their medium to new levels of concept and technique. Works in the exhibition were created between 1966 and 2010, with most made during the last ten years, and all but one of the artists still actively design and create.

Featured artists include: Matsumoto Hafu, Honma Hideaki, Ueno Masao, Uematsu Chikuyu, Nagakura Ken'ichi, Tanabe Chikuunsai III, Tanabe Yota, Tanabe Shochiku III, Tanioka Shigeo, Tanioka Aiko, Honda Shoryu, Mimura Chikuho, Nakatomi Hajime, Sugiura Noriyoshi, Fujinuma Noboru, Katsushiro Soho and Yonezawa Jiro.

Modern Twist: Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art is curated by Dr. Andreas Marks, Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture, and tour organized by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC. The exhibition is generously supported by the E. Rhodes & Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and the Nomura Foundation. Local presentation made possible in part by 4Culture and Washington State Arts Commission.

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