TAI Modern is pleased to present an exhibition with Japanese bamboo art’s preeminent artist couple, Tanioka Shigeo and Aiko. As former students of the famed multi-generational Tanabe family, the husband and wife are inheritors of a rich historical tradition which they have each firmly adapted to the contemporary.
After splitting his first culm of bamboo at age 25, Shigeo sought an apprenticeship with Tanabe Chikuunsai II, whom he studied under for nine years. Since becoming independent in 1984, Shigeo has integrated the techniques he learned from Chikuunsai II into a legacy of highly sculptural works. Whether symmetrical and regular like a traditional vessel, or an abstract aggregation of seemingly cascading bamboo, his pieces always highlight the inherent qualities of the material. Opting to use challenging bamboo types such as whole culms of a thin dwarf species or aged, smoked bamboo, he spends months of hands-on time on each piece. Shigeo explains, “I sometimes find myself wondering if I will ever make the piece with which I can be fully satisfied. I dream that, someday, I will.”
Aiko’s work is deeply rooted in the traditions of both the Kansai region generally, as well as the studio environment from which she emerged. Formal bamboo art studios such as the Tanabe’s have all but disappeared, and Aiko’s pieces pay homage to her 15 years studying with Tanabe Chikuunsai III by blending signature family techniques with stylistic touches that make them identifiably hers. Her pieces also tend to contrast one another, with a transparent, airy vessel followed by one so tightly plaited it seems it could hold water. Aiko explains that the differing results come from a dialogue with the material: “Bamboo is both delicate and powerful. It is not a tame material to shape according to my will. It gives me joy when my will and the will of the bamboo fit together nicely.”
Despite training under the same family, Shigeo and Aiko now work at different paces to differing ends. But both Taniokas can relate to one another’s love of bamboo and respect for the training they received, which fortuitously brought them together.
Tanioka Shigeo and Tanioka Aiko will be on display at TAI Modern, 1601 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe, NM 87501, between August 25th and September 24th. Gallery hours are Monday – Saturday, 10am-5pm. For press and image requests, please contact Celia L. Santos at (505) 984-1387 or firstname.lastname@example.org