Living National Treasure of Japan
Nature is an important theme for Katsushiro, who comes from a farming
family and spends his days working the land. The changing seasons spark
ideas for his bamboo vessels, which represent the movement of wind across
rice fields and shallow water beneath stones.
Katsushiro's father and his first teacher, Kikuchi Yoshii, were also
farmers who made bamboo baskets in the months when the fields were fallow.
Watching his father carve abstract sculptures in wood and stone gave the
young Katsushiro a taste for the artist's life. But the path to that career
was not easy. His six-year apprenticeship with Kikuchi included child care
and house cleaning. He spent two additional years studying with Yagisawa
Keizo and crafting commercial brooches and vases. With the encouragement of
his third teacher, Saito Bunseki, he began using bamboo to make art.
Katsushiro's innovative sculptures are included in collections at the
National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, the Japanese Agency of Cultural
Affairs, Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, San Francisco Asian Art
Museum, and the Ruth and Sherman Lee Institute for Japanese art. In 2005,
he became Japan's Living National Treasure in bamboo arts.
"In the beginning I was only making baskets for use, I didn't even think of
them as art," he says. "When I began submitting them in exhibitions I
started imagining that these pieces would last forever and that felt very good."
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