JAPANESE BAMBOO BASKETS
Flower basket by Iizuka Hochiku
Iizuka Hochiku / 飯塚鳳竹
14 x 10.25 x 10.25 in
36 x 26 x 26 cm
Iizuka Hochiku was the younger brother of Iizuka Hosai II, elder brother of Iizuka Rokansai. He was also devoted to the family’s vocation in bamboo, and was so accomplished that one of his works was awarded a prize at the 1925 Paris Exposition. Unfortunately his artistic life was disrupted by the war, from which he did not return.
The few baskets signed by Hochiku are of this kind, reinterpretations of those made by skilled basket weavers of the countryside. Hochiku seems to have been interested in joining the two traditions of basketry: what can be considered as 'finer' folk baskets, and those of the studio basket-weavers, who always made careful study of the ideas and techniques employed in traditional basketry.
Unsigned variants of this basket combining these contrasting horizontal and vertical weaves in dark smoked and sooted bamboo can be found every now and then, and Hosai II, Rokansai, and later Shokansai, all made their versions, each distinct from the other in some way. Some of those baskets achieved special balance. See, for example, Rokansai’s basket entitled Yudachi (Summer rain), in the 2018 exhibition catalog of Lines and Shapes, Lines and Spaces—The Bamboowork of Iizuka Rokansai and Tanabe Chikuunsai (Musee Tomo, Tokyo).
Though surrounded by baskets exhibited at the highest levels -baskets on which he must also have labored- Hochiku's personal works indicate a preference for more rustic, folk-inspired baskets. Those mingei works were sources of inspiration rather than fixed ideas, as his own works are often very robust and energetic, unique baskets even in the close context of the Iizuka studio. Here Hochiku is more subtle, constructing a full, relaxed body with unusual rustic yet elegant handle.