Nakaiwa Koji (b. 1973)

Suimon Octagonal basket
12 x 50 x 50 cm  
4 ¾ x 19 ¾ x 19¾ inches
Original box signed and sealed by Nakaiwa Koji
Sealed wrapping cloth
Nakaiwa Koji is one of the new generation of bamboo artists whose work demonstrates the continuing depth and vitality in the medium despite its very limited number of working artists. This monumental eight-sided basket is entitled Suimon, or ‘Dripping Water’, and its rippling plait patterns and unique billowing form were made to evoke the splash of dripping water into a still pool. Both top and bottom surfaces are expertly plaited, the top in ripples of light and dark, the bottom entirely in light-colored undulating nami ajiro-ame. A proud base allows light under the wide body, enhancing the feeling of upward motion and tension. The rim is bound with rattan in an unusual pattern developed by Nakaiwa’s former mentor Watanabe Shōchikusai II, who is profiled in the volume Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Arts (R. T. Coffland, Art Media Resources with Tai Gallery, 1999).

Created when this skilled, humble young man was just 21 years old, this work was accepted into the 34th Kyushu Craft Competition and is featured in the exhibition catalog. Requiring two months to complete, it is unique in Nakaiwa’s oeuvre and one of only a handful of such time-intensive exhibition-level pieces he has created.

Nakaiwa Koji entered the Beppu Vocational Arts Training Center to study bamboo directly after finishing high school. He gained his certificate and then apprenticed for five years under Watanabe Shōchikusai II, a widely acknowledged master of mat plaiting. Though he does not enter competitions any longer, Nakaiwa's youthful, experimental work was selected for numerous competitions in Kyushu and nationally, and he won several esteemed prizes.
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