TAI Modern is pleased to present Three Generations of Wada Waichisai, an exhibition of 16 works from this influential, but little studied bamboo art lineage. Wada Waichisai I (1851-1904) was a pioneering artist and teacher in the Kansai region. However, his son and grandson, Wada Waichisai II (1877-1933) and Wada Waichisai III (1899-1975), moved away from Japan’s artistic centers and refrained from public exhibitions while they carried on the family legacy. This special exhibition explores not only the art and history of Wada Waichisai I, II, and III, but also the artist relationship to the Osaka-based bunjin (literati) movement and sencha tea aesthetics.
Written history of modern Japanese bamboo art is usually introduced with a chapter stating that three masters set the foundation of this art form in the late 19th century; Hayakawa Shokosai of Funaba district, Wada Waichisai of Sumiyoshi district, and Donkosai of Nanba district. While the students of the Wada lineage are still active and growing, experts still do not know much about Wada Waichisai I himself and his direct descendants.
While Waichisai I was likely a master of the intricate karamono basket, the example in this show demonstrates an evolution from this style, which tended to follow the Chinese tradition of basketry to the minutest detail. Whereas karamono necessitates highly decorative and intricate rattan work, this boat shaped basket was created entirely of overdyed susutake (antique smoked bamboo), omitting rattan altogether.
A prominent feature of Wada Waichisai II’s work is his frequent use of black bamboo. Waichisai II was able to create interesting textures and forms by twisting and contorting the material. Black bamboo is more flexible than the traditional timber bamboo. Waichisai II was certainly one of the earliest, if not the first, artists to use this unique species for basket making.
Wada Waichisai III also developed his own artistic style. His open forms are more minimalistic, relying more upon the flow and rhythm of the overall form than surface textures. In his more formal pieces, Waichisai III sometimes added a series of metal bead inlays covered by a black coat of urushi lacquer. This was an homage to Chinese style decorative elements with an innovative twist.
Three Generations of Wada Waichisai will be on display at TAI Modern, 1601 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe, NM 87501 between June 29th and July 22nd. Gallery hours are Monday – Saturday, 10am-5pm. For press and image requests, please contact Arianna Borgeson (505) 984-1387 or [email protected].