Kawashima Shigeo (b. 1958)

Flower basket: 17 x 16.5 x 17
c. 1980
Box signed and sealed by Kawashima Shigeo
Even among the polymathic abilities of contemporary bamboo artisans and their varied professional trajectories, Kawashima Shigeo occupies an unusual position; more than others working at the boundaries of traditional bamboo craft and contemporary art, he has invented common ground between distinct artistic traditions. In a manner reminiscent of Isamu Noguchi, Kawashima’s voluptuous geometrical forms, large-scale open-air installations, and novel combinations and reinterpretations of materials bring him into closer dialogue with post-war sculpture than with much bamboo art. Yet he does work primarily in bamboo, and his excellence in bamboo craft (he was an instructor at the Beppu vocational school while still in his twenties) underlies his success in this new world.
We present three of Kawashima’s rare early works: vessels of unconventional form and quiet self-possession. They are compact, warm, and invite handling, and yet also decidedly sculptural. They show some dialogue with important works by Living National Treasure Katsushiro Soho, but also evidence of an artist freed from received ideas and looking forward to transforming bamboo as a medium.
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