JAPANESE BAMBOO BASKETS

Deep Mountain by Abe Motoshi

ABE Motoshi / 安倍基

b. 1942

Deep Mountain

c. 1983

16.5 x 33 x 33 cm 

6.5 x 13 x 13 in

Original box signed and sealed by the artist

Original lacquered water container

Bamboo basketry in Kyushu has a distinctively elemental feel. The landscape there is younger and less orderly, more bushy and charged full of sunlight, than in Japan’s more northerly latitudes. Curious, then, that bamboo art in Kyushu should so emphasize the bowl form, certainly among the earliest and most important human forms in existence.

 

Of all contemporary bamboo artists, Abe Motoshi is perhaps the one who has explored the bowl-shaped-basket most energetically, and his bowls are often formed from distinct and powerful weaves, patterns that seem to bring the ancient tradition of bamboo-basketry in Japan into dialogue with the basketry of other peoples and other places. 

 

Made of leached 'white' bamboo, this basket has the understatement of a ritual vessel. In construction it is double-walled, with interior and exterior layers rising from individually patterned bases. The exterior surface is constructed of vertically-split lengths gathered together in bunches of three; their thickness varies in relation to their position along the vertical arc of the basket. The exterior surfaces of these lengths retain the texture of the nodes, which, scattered across the surface, give the basket a distinctly organic tactile quality immediately sensible in the hand. 

 

From the maker’s view, retaining the nodes requires an impressive decision, as with them the long lengths of bamboo become irregular and are much more likely to snap while being woven. Subtle to the eye, these nodes make all the difference in the hand as they change the feel of basket entirely, conveying the presence of the bamboo plant and its vibrant life so immediately into the bowl’s formation.

Born into a bamboo craft family and trained in the craft since boyhood, Abe Motoshi began his apprenticeship under National Living Treasure Shono Shounsai (1904-1974) on concluding high school. He has exhibited extensively in Kyushu and in national exhibitions such as the Dento Kogei Ten (Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition) since 1976. His baskets are included in the permanent collections of the Oita Prefectural Museum of Art, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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