"The exhibition 'Modern Twist: Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art' offers an antidote [to stress], full of intriguing objects that ask nothing more than to be admired for their beauty and human ingenuity." — Houston Chronicle

"The vessels and sculpture in 'Modern Twist' give hardly an inch to an iron-clad attachment to craft even as they innovate and expand their traditional canons of form." — Glasstire

“'Modern Twist' demonstrates just how far the art form has come since it was reserved for utilitarian baskets, vases, ladles and tea scoops....The artists in 'Modern Twist' have been experimenting with abstract and conceptual forms for years, and in their masterful hands, the medium is being transformed and elevated to a new level of artistic creativity." — Visual Art Source


Bamboo is characterized by strength, flexibility, and lightness—bending, not breaking, with strong winds, while enduring harsh winters. This exhibition explores the innovative shape bamboo art has taken in Japan since the mid-twentieth century. With rare wall-hung installations and sculptures never before seen in Texas, the exhibition both engages and educates audiences about a vibrant cultural art form.

Although bamboo is an abundant natural resource, it is a challenging artistic medium with less than 100 professional bamboo artists in Japan today. Mastering the art form requires decades of meticulous practice learning how to harvest, split, and plait the bamboo. Modern Twist brings 16 of these artists to Houston audiences, and their works display a mastery of the supreme technical skills inherent in their innovative and imaginatively crafted sculptures. The exhibition features works by Living National Treasures Katsushiro Sōhō (2005) and Fujinuma Noboru (2012) and other visionary artists including Matsumoto Hafū, Honma Hideaki, Ueno Masao, Uematsu Chikuyū, Nagakura Ken’ichi, Tanabe Chikuunsai III, Tanabe Yōta, Tanabe Shōchiku III, Tanioka Shigeo, Tanioka Aiko, Mimura Chikuhō, Nakatomi Hajime, Sugiura Noriyoshi, and Yonezawa Jirō.

Modern Twist examines the rising awareness of this medium as an innovative art form. In the last century, the creativity and talent of bamboo basket makers has elevated their status from artisans working primarily anonymously to sought-after artists. The exhibition celebrates these artists who have helped to redefine a traditional craft as a modern genre, inventing unexpected new forms and pushing the medium to groundbreaking levels of conceptual, technical, and artistic ingenuity.

Admission Information

Admission to this exhibition is free for Asia Society Members and children ages 12 and under, $5 for Nonmembers.

 

Free Admission Times

There are many opportunities to visit this exhibition for FREE! Check out the list below.

Reception Celebrating Modern Twist Exhibition
Friday, January 27, 6:30-8:30 pm

Family Day: Lunar New Year Celebration
Saturday, January 28, 2017, 1-4 pm

Super Bowl LI’s Special Reception for 'Modern Twist' Exhibition
Thursday, February 2, 6:30-8:30 pm

Spring into Asia
Tuesday, March 14-17, 1:00-3:00 pm

AsiaFest
Saturday, May 13, 11 am-6 pm

Attending an Asia Society program? Your ticket grants you free admission to the gallery before the start of the program.


Hours

Tuesday – Friday, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Saturday– Sunday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Closed Mondays.

 

Photography

Photography of the exhibition without flash is permitted.

Press Release

Houston, Texas, November 15, 2016—Asia Society Texas Center is pleased to announce Modern Twist: Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art, an exhibition exploring the innovative shape bamboo art has taken in Japan since the mid-twentieth century. With rare wall-hung installations and sculptures never before seen in Texas, this exhibition both engages and educates audiences about a vibrant cultural art form. Modern Twist will be on view in the Center’s Louisa Stude Sarofim Gallery from January 28 through July 30, 2017. 

Bridget Bray, Asia Society Texas Center’s Nancy C. Allen Curator and Director of Exhibitions, states: “These works represent the critical and continuing role that artistic traditions can play in the most cutting-edge contemporary art in Asia. Because of bamboo’s importance in Japan, it has never left the forefront as a material of choice for artists there.”

Bamboo is a quintessential part of Japanese culture, shaping the country’s social, artistic, and spiritual landscape. Although bamboo is an abundant natural resource, it is a challenging artistic medium with less than 100 professional bamboo artists in Japan today. Mastering the art form requires decades of meticulous practice learning how to harvest, split, and plait the bamboo. Modern Twist brings 16 of these artists to North American audiences, and their 38 works display a mastery of the supreme technical skills inherent in their innovative and imaginatively crafted sculptures. The exhibition is guest-curated by Dr. Andreas Marks of Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and organized by International Arts and Artists.

The emergence of bamboo as a sculptural art form has religious and cultural roots. In Japan, functional objects have been woven from bamboo for hundreds of years. By the 8th century, bamboo baskets were incorporated into Buddhist ceremonies, and held flower petals that were offered to deities in sacred rituals. During the 15th and 16th centuries, bamboo vases, tea scoops, ladles, and whisks became important features of Japanese traditions, such as flower arrangements (ikebana) and tea gatherings (chanoyu and senchadō).

Bamboo is characterized by strength, flexibility, and lightness—bending, not breaking, with strong winds, while enduring harsh winters. It has been featured in a range of disciplines including architecture, construction, cuisine, music, literature, art, and poetry.

Modern Twist examines the rising awareness of this medium as an innovative art form. In the last 100 years, the creativity and talent of bamboo basket makers has elevated their status from artisans working primarily anonymously to sought-after artists. These artists have redefined aesthetic conventions by experimenting with abstract forms, and their creations have evolved from functional vessels to increasingly sculptural objects.

Since 1967, six bamboo artists have been named Living National Treasures. The Japanese government created this award after World War II in an effort to celebrate and preserve the nation’s traditions and culture. Individuals considered for the honor are from areas highly valued throughout Japanese history, such as art, drama, and music. Being chosen as a Living National Treasure is a recognition of excellence in one’s artistic field. In essence, the award establishes the recipient as a Cultural Ambassador, responsible for the dissemination, perpetuation, and future development of their designated art form. Only two living bamboo artists —Modern Twist’s Katsushiro Sōhō (2005) and Fujinuma Noboru (2012)—currently hold this title. Katsushiro is represented in the exhibition by his piece, Sunset Glow, which demonstrates his impeccable craftsmanship and renowned execution of diverse techniques. Fujinuma Noboru’s works, Spring Tide and Gentle Heart, exemplify the array of shapes and techniques that he has mastered, showcasing his level of perfection.

In addition, Modern Twist features works by other visionary artists: Matsumoto Hafū, Honma Hideaki, Ueno Masao, Uematsu Chikuyū, Nagakura Ken’ichi, Tanabe Chikuunsai III, Tanabe Yōta, Tanabe Shōchiku III, Tanioka Shigeo, Tanioka Aiko, Mimura Chikuhō, Nakatomi Hajime, Sugiura Noriyoshi, and Yonezawa Jirō.

Modern Twist demonstrates that in the hands of master bamboo artists, a simple grass is transformed into a sculptural art. The exhibition celebrates these artists who have helped to redefine a traditional craft as a modern genre, inventing unexpected new forms, and pushing the medium to groundbreaking levels of conceptual, technical, and artistic ingenuity.

Admission to this exhibition is FREE for members and children ages 12 and under, $5 for nonmembers. Asia Society Texas Center, located at 1370 Southmore Boulevard, is open Tuesday – Friday, 11 am – 6 pm, and Saturday – Sunday, 10 am – 6 pm.

This exhibition at Asia Society Texas Center is made possible through support of presenting sponsor, Nancy C. Allen. Major support also comes from Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, Leslie and Brad Bucher, and the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance. Generous funding also provided by The Anchorage Foundation of Texas, The Clayton Fund, Kathy and Glen Gondo, Ann Wales, and through contributions from the Friends of Exhibitions, a premier group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing exceptional visual art to Asia Society Texas Center.


Download the press release here.

Related Links

In exhibit 'Modern Twist,' bamboo sculptures bend minds. Houston Chronicle. February 3, 2017.

“Modern Twist: Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art.” Visual Art Source. February 26, 2017.

‘Modern Twist’ at Asia Society. Glasstire. June 5, 2017.

Modern Twist: Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art. CKW Luxe Magazine. Summer 2017.

Related Programs and Tours

Reception Celebrating Modern Twist Exhibition
Friday, January 27, 6:30-8:00 pm
Enjoy complimentary admission to the exhibition and a reception with light bites.

Family Day: Lunar New Year Celebration 
Saturday, January 28, 1:00-4:00 pm
Celebrate the Year of the Rooster with games, performances, activities, and a FREE look at the Modern Twist exhibiton.

Super Bowl LI’s Special Reception for 'Modern Twist' Exhibition
Thursday, February 2, 2017, 6:00-9:00 pm
Enjoy complimentary admission to the exhibition and a special reception with wine, light bites, and celebrity appearances. 

Spring into Asia
Tuesday, March 14-17, 1:00-3:00 pm
Welcome spring by participating in come-and-go acts and crafts during Spring Break. Guests can also enjoy special screenings of Disney's Moana and visit the Modern Twist exhibition for FREE!

Curator Talk: Dr. Andreas Marks
Saturday, July 22, 11:00 am-12:30 pm
Guest curator Dr. Andreas Marks will look into the historical development of bamboo art in Japan and provide an overview of the leading bamboo artists of the early 20th century. Light bites will be provided.

 

Monthly Tours

Saturday, February 11, 3 pm

Saturday, March 11, 3 pm

Saturday, April 8, 3 pm

Saturday, May 6, 3 pm

Saturday, June 10, 3 pm

Saturday, July 8, 3 pm

To schedule a group tour outside of these designated days, please fill out the form below or contact Sarah Collins, Education & Outreach Coordinator, at SCollins@AsiaSociety.org.

Schedule a group tour »

 

School Tours

School tours, facilitated by the education department staff and volunteers, provide educationally rich interactive opportunities for students to learn about Asian art, culture, and traditions. These free tours are open to all public, private, charter, alternative, and home schools. Visits take place on weekdays, Tuesday through Friday, for one to two hours.

All school tours and subsequent interactive projects are tethered to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and district curriculum standards. They may include:

  • Docent-led tour of exhibitions in the Louisa Stude Sarofim Gallery

  • "Introduction to Asia” PowerPoint Presentation highlighting essential information about Asian art, culture, geography, and politics

  • Guided tour of the Texas Center and discussion of its unique architecture

  • Interactive projects based on the current exhibition (not available during summer months, June through August)

PLEASE NOTE: During summer months, due to summer camps, Asia Society is unable to accommodate requests to designate a lunch area for students.

At least two weeks’ notice is required for school tours and additional advance notice is required for groups larger than 25. Learn more about the school tour interactive project at the link below.

Schedule a school tour »

For more information, please contact SCollins@AsiaSociety.org.

Credits

Modern Twist: Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art is guest-curated by Dr. Andreas Marks, of Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Collection of the Clark Center, and organized by International Arts and Artists, Washington, D.C. The touring exhibition is generously supported by the E. Rhodes & Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and the Nomura Foundation.

This exhibition at Asia Society Texas Center is made possible through the support of presenting sponsor, Nancy C. Allen. Major support also comes from Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, The Brown Foundation, Inc., Leslie and Brad Bucher, and the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance, and Houston Endowment, Inc. Generous funding also provided by The Clayton Fund, Kathy and Glen Gondo, Ann Wales, and through contributions from the Friends of Exhibitions, a premier group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing exceptional visual art to Asia Society Texas Center.

  

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