Tanabe Chikuunsai IVb. 1973, Sakai City, Osaka
Tanabe Chikuunsai IV was born into one of Japan's most prestigious bamboo families. One of the most talented and versatile bamboo artists of his generation, he has carried on the Tanabe family tradition in the wake of the death of his father, Tanabe Chikuunsai III (1940–2014). He is the chosen son to become Tanabe Chikuunsai IV, representing his family's fourth generation of bamboo artists.
He earned a degree in sculpture from the Tokyo University of the Arts and trained in bamboo crafts at an occupational school in Beppu. From a young age, he gravitated towards bamboo, making his first piece when he was only seven or eight. He continues to work alongside his esteemed father in the elder’s Osaka studio, taking brief breaks in Beppu to improve his proficiency.
His signature is organic sculptural forms made with tiger bamboo and other natural materials.
He has received many accolades, including the Mayor’s Award at the Sakai City Art Exhibition in 2001 and the Osaka Craft Exhibition Choice Award at the All Kansai Art Exhibition in 2004. He is active in Japan and internationally, exhibiting in the USA, UK, New Zealand, Korea, Switzerland, and France. His work is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Art of Boston, Philadelphia Museum of Art, British Museum, Guilt Museum, Quai Branly Museum and the V&A Museum.
Sawako Kaijimab. 1976, Tokyo
Sawako Kaijima is an artist, designer, and Assistant Professor of Architecture at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. Her research focuses on the use of digital technology to redefine the boundaries between disciplines, including architecture, engineering and art. The results of her research have been consolidated into computer software as well as into unique, effective, and previously unavailable arts and designs. Her work has been widely published, exhibited, and awarded numerous international prizes.
Prior to joining Harvard, Kaijima held an appointment at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. She received a Master of Architecture degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Information from Keio University, Japan.
“Craft Modernization” is one of a stream of applied research where she examines traditional crafts in light of new technologies. Kaijima, as a part of this work, has been collaborating with Tanabe for more than 8 years. The works in the ‘Disappear’ series, as well as the work ‘Hanamushin’, are the fruits of this collaboration. ‘Disappear’ series, for example, were conceptualised with custom software developed by Kaijima taking into account the specifics of handcraft and bamboo. 3D-printed scaffolds were fabricated to aid the masterful physicalisation of the art by Tanabe.
Kensuke Koikeb. 1980, Nagoya
Venice and Tokyo-based artist Kensuke Koike has amassed a huge collection of vintage materials which he discovers at flea markets and spends much of his days deconstructing and reconfiguring in his studio - distorting his prized images to bring us unexpected and renewed creations that he exhibits around the world.
His practice is centred around a philosophy of 'no more, no less' exploring the possibilities of creating a new image made up only of itself. This involves using only the existing assets found within an image to create a contemporary visual with a new narrative - a process he has coined as 'single image processing’. Using found objects in this way creates a more dynamic way of working, as although he experiments with many prototypes initially, there is only one chance to work with the original photograph.
The use of found images in combination with the handcrafted formation of the works feels nostalgic for a vintage era, whilst the videos taken and shared digitally show his interest in contemporary ways of working.
Koike introduces a performative element to his practice through his exhibiting of both the processes and final works, which is important to understand both the humour and reverence with which he creates his vision.
His artworks have been exhibited globally at museums and exhibitions around the world such as The Photographers’ Gallery, London; Postmasters Gallery, New York; Ciocca Contemporary Art, Milan; A plus A Gallery, Venice; IMA, Tokyo; Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York; Design Museum, London; Asama International Photo Festival, Japan and Guangdong Museum of Art, China. He has been the artist-in-residence at SEPTIEME Gallery, Paris, SuperOtium, Naples and the Kala Institute, Berkely.