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Tanabe Chikuunsai IV creates a site-specific installation within TAI Modern's walls
Connection, 2019, by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV (Japanese, b. 1973). Installation at Asian Art Museum. Photograph Courtesy Asian Art Museum.

SANTA FE, NM.- In the world of Japanese art, it’s hard to miss Tanabe Chikuunsai IV. From his colossal installations at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museé Guimet to recent solo exhibitions in Paris and Belgium, Tanabe has emerged as a leader and representative for a younger generation of bamboo artists.

TAI Modern is presenting the exhibition Tanabe Chikuunsai IV, in which the artist has created a site-specific installation within the gallery’s walls.

“For this exhibition, I will create a conceptual bamboo art installation within a gallery space. Beginning in 2011, these large-scale spatial art installations are the basis of my current artistic activities. For installations, I use tiger bamboo with tiger-striped patterns that grow in Suzaki in Kochi prefecture. At the end of each exhibition, the installation is dismantled into raw material. The same material is then used for a different installation to be built in a new space. Although each installation is subsequently deconstructed, the same tiger bamboo is connected to each successive installation,” states the artist.

Tanabe was born to one of Japan's most prestigious bamboo pedigrees and is the fourth generation of his family to take the artist name Chikuunsai, meaning “master of the bamboo clouds.” Tanabe works hard to keep his family’s heritage alive by mastering the styles and techniques that the Tanabe family is known for, while also establishing his own original artistic voice. “’Tradition’ is different from ‘transmission.’ With ‘transmission,’ you continue to make the same thing regardless of era,” the artist explains, “but ‘tradition’ always takes up the challenge of the new, and its innovations in turn become tradition to be linked with what follows.”

For example, the organic forms of Tanabe’s rough-woven sculptures and baskets, often incorporating bamboo roots, share a technique as well as a fluidity and living energy with seminal works by his grandfather and uncle, but have a completely contemporary feel.

Recently, Tanabe has begun collaborating with the computer scientist and designer Kaijima Sawako, a professor at Harvard University, on the works in the Disappear series. These streamlined openwork sculptures are designed with the assistance of computer software then masterfully translated into the medium of bamboo with the assistance of 3D-printed resin molds.

The artist has received many accolades. His work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Musee du Quai Branley-Jacques Chirac, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Museé Guimet, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, among others.

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