Bamboo and Stem – intriguing artworks by NAGAKURA Kenichi

Bamboo and Stem – intriguing artworks by NAGAKURA Kenichi

World-renowned bamboo sculptor Kenichi Nagakura will feature his expressive and unique artwork at Intertwined: Bamboo and Stem Contemporary Art Exhibition, opening on Saturday, April 24that the George J. Doizaki Gallery in Little Tokyo, Downtown Los Angeles. This exhibit will showcase twenty-eight of Nagakura’s finest early and current work, and is part of the 30th Anniversary Celebration at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center–a preeminent presenter of Japanese, Japanese American, and Asian American arts in the U.S.

Nagakura blends passion and innovation with each sliver of bamboo he plaits into some of the most imaginative art pieces today. Nagakura learned traditional bamboo basketry from his grandfather and worked diligently to master the traditional techniques before breaking away to pursue his innovative style. A recipient of the Cotsen Bamboo Prize in 2000, Nagakura continually strives to elicit the “rhythm and harmony” of the bamboo. His organic sculptural vessels are rooted in tradition but reflect a wide range of influences including Pop Art, the Jomon ceramics from Japan’s pre-historic period, and cord-patterned clay work from the 3rd and 2nd millennia B.C.

Intertwined: Bamboo and Stem is a collaborative exhibition featuring a gallery design by JACCC’s Artistic Director Hirokazu Kosaka. The exhibition will also feature the Japanese floral arrangements of Ikenobo, Los Angeles Chapter and Ohara School of Ikebana, Los Angeles Chapter.

Complementing the exhibition, Nagakura and Kosaka will give a lecture and demonstration as part of the JACCC’s On the Veranda Cultural Programs on Sunday, April 25th from 1-3 p.m. This insightful program will give audience members a deeper understanding of bamboo art and the collaborative process between the artists.

Intertwined: Bamboo & Stem exhibit and Bamboo Forest lecture/demonstration are made possible in part by the generous support from the Tai Gallery/Textile Arts, Inc. in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Intertwined: Bamboo and Stem Exhibition
Saturday, April 24th until Sunday May 5th, 2010

Reception – Saturday, April 24th – 3pm-5pm
George J. Doizaki Gallery
FREE Admission

~ ALSO ~

Bamboo Forest. An Insight by Kenichi Nagakura–On the Veranda
Sunday, April 25th 1pm-3pm
JACCC Garden Room
$20 General Admission
$15 JACCC Members
$18 Seniors/Students

Japanese American Cultural & Community Center
244 S. San Pedro St., Suite 505, Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 628-2725 X 144
Email inquiries:

Artist’s Statement:

NAGAKURA Kenichi (b. 1952)

“For me it is very important to use parts of a bamboo plant from above ground and parts from below ground,” Nagakura says. “I like to add bamboo roots to some of my work as a reminder of the dark side of life.”

Unaffiliated with any of Japan’s craft arts organizations, Nagakura is the first recipient of the Cotsen Bamboo Prize, awarded in 2000, and an esteemed independent artist for more than 20 years.

His organic, contemporary pieces are rooted in the functional baskets made for centuries for flower arranging at Japanese tea ceremonies but also borrow from wide-ranging sources, including European sculpture, the American pop art movement, indigenous Japanese forms, and cord-patterned clay work from the 3rd and 2nd millennia B.C. His fine plaiting mimics complex line drawing and the graceful shapes of his vessels are inspired by human form and by objects from the natural world, such as fallen leaves, emerging shoots, and cocoons.

Nagakura began his career dyeing fabric for kimonos but quickly realized he wanted to make artwork, like ceramics, that had an inherent vitality. He spent three years splitting bamboo for his grandfather, who was a bamboo craftsman. Several years later he brought his work to a contemporary gallery that gave him a solo show. He is passionate about jazz, classical, and rock music, and strives to elicit the “rhythm and harmony” of bamboo. Nagakura’s work is in the collection of the Clark Center for Japanese Art, Culture Mint Museum of Craft & Design, and San Francisco Asian Art Museum.

Report by Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.

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