Tanaka Kyokusho – Opening Reception
Tanaka Kyokusho, one of Japan’s most highly esteemed bamboo artists, presents a body of work that features elegant designs and masterful technique. Tanaka’s work synthesizes sleek, modern aesthetics with meticulous traditional craftsmanship. He says, “In creating my works, I try to keep the design as simple as possible and create works with delicacy and strength.”
The artist’s signature palette is one of rich ambers and golds, grounded with a heavily saturated black. Tanaka is one of a select few bamboo artists who use vegetable dyes, and these dyes are derived from natural sources, including madder, turmeric, alder, safflower, gardenia, and sappanwood. In Kyoto Museum curator Melissa M. Rinne’s words, “Tanaka’s baskets are instantly recognizable for their chic tonality.”
Tanaka holds himself to a high standard of process and vision and takes the time before each piece to compose and experiment with shape, colors, and the widths and spacings of the bamboo strips. This leads to a series of drafts, executed through technical sketches and physical samples to evaluate the aesthetic outcomes of these variables.
This attention to specificity and dedication to form synthesizes beautifully in Madder Red Flower Basket with a Lotus Shaped Handle, where Tanaka’s signature ochre yellow stands in sharp contrast to the vertical black bands of the body and its delicate handle. His handles are elegant, balancing the weight of the basket with a calm extrapolation of form. This refined linear composition leads the viewer to appreciate Tanaka’s architectural precision and exquisite sense of proportion.
Tanaka is one of the most well-respected creators of bamboo art alive today and has received a multitude of awards. In 2008, he was awarded the Purple Ribbon for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts by the Japanese Congress, presented by the Emperor of Japan. Another of the most prestigious accolades came in May of 2023. Tanaka’s basket Mist, showcased in this exhibition at TAI Modern, was also shown in the 63rd Eastern Japan Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition. There, Tanaka was awarded the prestigious Japan Kogei Association Prize—a peer-awarded “Best of Show” across all genres.
This show marks Tanaka’s third solo exhibition with the gallery.