Untitled offering tray, 2005
13 1/2" x 12" x 7"
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Click here to view the Tanaka Kyokusho exhibition catalog online.
Freshly graduated from the Beppu Occupational School, Tanaka built his
pieces from the bottom up, in the traditional way. Quickly, however, his
work evolved into sleek, minimal objects of great refinement, constructed
of thinly sliced, stacked, and threaded rattan and bamboo, a crisscross
technique of his own invention.
An admirer of architecture, he constructs his baskets like buildings. Each
is fabricated from 30 or more individual parts, occasionally incorporating
smoked bamboo from the rafters of 200 year-old houses. Two decades ago, he
created an open, airy method of transparent weaving, or sukashi-ami, that
allows his baskets, as he puts it, to "breathe."
His innovation has been recognized by the Japan Craft Arts Association, which has admitted him into its annual juried shows nearly
every year for more than a quarter-century and awarded him top prizes,
including a Chairman's Award, some half-dozen times. One of his pieces was
purchased by the Japanese government as a gift for visiting dignitaries.
"The distance between strings is the most important point," the artist says
of his construction process. "Even slight differences in distance make a
big difference. There are so many combinations. I decide which ones are the
most beautiful through the process of trial and error."
A graduate in business administration from one of the top private
universities in Japan, Tanaka is the third generation bamboo artist in his
family. His Tokyo bamboo shop was established by his grandfather almost a
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