JAPANESE BAMBOO BASKETS
Eggplant-shaped Flower Vessel by Kosuge Kogetsu
Kosuge Kogetsu / 小菅吼月造
Eggplant-shaped Flower Vessel
14.5 x 7 x 6.25 in
36 x 19 x 16 cm
Original box signed and sealed by the artist
Original lacquered water container
This beautiful basket is both formal and warm, like a portrait of a favorite relative. The basket is made in the form of an eggplant, a royal among vegetables. The finely woven base pattern gives the surface a naturalistic depth. The handle is just lovely.
The integrity and humor with which bamboo artists approach such everyday objects—eggplants, potatoes, the grassy packaging made for fermented soy beans—is charming and yet also bewildering to those for whom art should search for ‘higher’ truths and ‘deeper’ individual expression. The bewilderment increases as one finds the same artists were just as able to create compelling ‘abstract’ works. Bamboo somehow has allowed artists to range across and link together such apparently distinct aesthetic traditions—and with such fluency that one is obliged to reconsider the initial rationale for their separation. And does not this reconsideration of the traditional and the abstract throw the history of the “dialogue” between Western and Eastern art into question? Who has been saying what to whom, exactly?
Kosuge Kogetsu is the son and student of Kosuge Chikudo (1895-1966) of Niigata. Chikudo was the elder of a relatively small number of bamboo artists who achieved outsize influence in the world of bamboo art. Located on Japan’s inland sea, Niigata is a place of superlatively dynamic natural energy. It has high mountains, thick forests and wide lowland plains run through with powerful rivers. It is tectonically active and full of hot springs, with long, snow-filled winters and short, hot, fecund summers in which much work must be done.
The region has been home to the people of the archipelago for thousands of years. Jomon ceramics achieved unparalleled development there. The bamboo art of the region also has notable quality, with some special techniques and ideas developed in relation to several local varieties of bamboo, and dialogue with the bamboo traditions developed elsewhere in Japan’s northern and eastern territories. Kogetsu’s works are especially prized by tea practitioners for their rich understatement and quiet confidence, and so are rarely found at public market.