JAPANESE BAMBOO BASKETS
Country Fence Flower Basket by Tanabe Chikuunsai II
Tanabe Chikuunsai II / 二代田辺竹雲斎
Country Fence Flower Basket
42.5 x 13.3 x 12.5 cm
16.7 x 5.2 x 4.9 in
Original signed box + lacquered water container
A lovely, relaxed and unpretentious basket entitled Magaki, or "Country Fence", by protean artist Tanabe Chikuunsai II. The principal material of this basket is madake whose outer skin and nodes have been gently shaved, leaving soft edges and undulating lengths that mimic the staves of a country fence. Amber-colored lacquer lessens the contrast between these vertical lines and the single lengths of darker hobichiku that allude to the larger staves that shore up the corners of such fences. The basket's form and pattern, as well as the technique of fastening such fences with a looping diagonal cross, are country flavors, almost extensions of rural landscapes around Japan.
Even urban-based basketmakers often brought familiar objects and patterns of everyday country life into their art. Such works are not just nostalgic, but signal the enduring significance of long-established ways of life, of things and practices, and even entire landscapes, to contemporary art and life.
Like several other of Chikuunsai II's works found here, the box inscription indicates that this basket was made at the Kaifu Nan-sho studio. It can therefore be dated between 1937 and 1944. Until 1937, Tanabe Chikuunsai II was known as Shochikuunsai (Little Bamboo Cloud). He assumed the Chikuunsai artist name as well as the family's illustrious studio on his father's death in that year. He was 27 years old. In 1944, the Sakai area of southern Osaka was subjected to repeated bombing, forcing most residents to abandon the area. After the war Chikuunsai II would return to work, building the Tekisuikyo studio and eventually accepting numerous apprentices. These early works stand slightly apart from those of the post-war years. They range widely but are unfailingly ambitious and expansive, describing the intentions of a young artist dedicated to inhabiting his father’s name and assuring its significance in the sophisticated aesthetic community of the time.