I’m just back from a five-day trip to Paris, where there were a few exhibitions I wanted to see. Foremost of these was the Art of Bamboo in Japan (Fendre l’Air) at the Quai Branly Museum.
I’ve written previously about the history of bamboo basketry in Japan and some of the main makers. What this exhibition does exceptionally well is trace the development of bamboo art from a functional but still beautiful craft to contemporary sculptural forms.
Rokansai, widely considered to be the most important bamboo artist of the 20th century, developed the concept of three types of basket:
- Shin: Formal pieces that are symmetrical and very neatly plaited
- Gyo: Semi-formal pieces, either symmetrical with irregular weaving or asymmetrical with regular weaving, or a combination of both
- So: Informal pieces, often free form, that my integrate a handle made of a rhizome.
As a material, bamboo is supple, light, astonishingly flexible yet mechanically resistant, and impermeable – as these pieces show.
“Art of Bamboo in Japan” runs at the Quai Branly Museum until 7 April 2019.