Tag: Fiber Futures: Pioneers of Japanese Textile Art

Artist Focus: Hideho Tanaka

Hideho Tanaka portrait
Hideho Tanaka at the opening of Fiber FuturesJapan’s Textile Pioneers in New York, 2011. Photo by Tom Grotta

Japanese artist Hideho Tanaka, now in his 80s, explores contradictory elements in his work, using time, which he sees as an agent of change, as one guide to his aesthetic choices.

Tanaka studied industrial art and design at the Musashino Art University, in Tokyo. Beginning in 1972, Tanaka taught art, while participating in solo and group exhibitions As a teacher, Tanaka explained, he worked to nurture younger generations, as artists, to think not only of soft cloth, but also less-used materials such as wood, paper pulp and stainless steel thread.

Vanishing and Emerging Rocks
22ht Vanishing & Emerging P32-A, Hideho Tanaka, paper and burnt steel wire, 8″ x 11.5″ x 10″, 1995; 23ht Vanishing & Emerging P32-B, Hideho Tanaka, paper and burnt steel wire, 8″ x 11″ x 11″, 1995; 25ht Vanishing & Emerging P32-D, Hideho Tanaka, paper and burnt steel wire, 8″ x 8.5″ x 7.5″, 1995; 26ht Vanishing & Emerging P32-E, Hideho Tanaka, paper and burnt steel wire, 8″ x 8″ x 8.25″, 1995. Photo by Tom Grotta

In the 1980s, Tanaka expanded the scale of his activities and began large-scale outdoor performances and installations in which he covered dunes with cloth which he burned. In subsequent years, under the theme of Vanishing & Emerging (disappearance and transformation), he continued these explorations — burning metal fibers and other aspects of his works. “He uses fire to suggest destructive force or benign transformation .… He often creates simple solids, opposing the specificity of the materials to the generality of the forms and burning holes in the cloth or singeing the edges of the solids to invade their geometric austerity.” Janet Koplos, Contemporary Japanese Sculpture (Abbeville Press, New York, NY, 1991).

Vanishing and Emerging Wall detail
16ht Vanishing and Emerging Wall, Hideho Tanaka, paper, 87” x 102” x 11”, 2009. Photo by Tom Grotta

Tanaka also expanded his art practice in the 80’s to include the creation of art textiles using paper — Tanaka also expanded his art practice in the 80’s to textiles using paper — creating dynamic works by virtue of the material used in the works and their sense of scale. The artist explained his interest in fiber in the catalog for Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers (Japan Society, New York, distributed Yale University Press 2011an exhibition that travelled internationally in Europe, the US and Europe. “Why did I start thinking about fiber art as a medium? It was partly because I was attracted to the idea of expressing myself in a subtle yet intractable material, but I was also intrigued by the challenge of turning something accidental into a deliberate work of art,” he said. “I’m acutely aware of accidents that actually help me achieve the expression I was striving for and other accidents that take my work in a completely different direction.”

The sculptural sense of Tanaka’s art is exciting — the works are light and yet have enormous presence. In his smaller objects, several layers of thin wire have been loosely bound, sometimes with piles of light-colored fibers, sometimes coated with paper pulp. He creates a contrast between the stiff wire and the short pieces of malleable fiber, the uniform wire and pulp in freeform. The large elliptical wall hanging, Vanishing and Emerging, wall (2009), takes a different approach. “Intricately crafted from ink-lined squares of paper, it is a kind of ode to the natural weight, thickness and movement of the cotton, flax and paper fibers from which the panels are made, emphasizing the material’s natural flow so that the piece seems to have a life of its own. The result is a subtle trick of the eye: The textile is at once rippled and featherlight yet geometrically robust with parallel and perpendicular lines that appear to be woven together like a dense and tidy network of veins in a leaf,” wrote Alexandra Zagalsky, “Hideho Tanaka Carefully Stitched Together Pieces to Make this Sculptural Textile,” Introspective Magazine, September 22, 2021.

Emerging Wall Collage
29, 31ht Emerging, Hideho Tanaka, japanese carbon ink drawing, inkjet print, collage (cotton cloth which put a Japanese tissue paper.), 14.5” x 18.25” x 1”, 2016. Photo by Tom Grotta

Tanaka’s work “deals with both philosophical and metaphysical ideas, and he often endeavors to connect the realm of the physical world with unseen spiritual planes. He attempts to bridge this gap through forms that suggest the frailty and transience of the human experience,” writes the Minneapolis of Art which has acquired his work. “The medium of fiber is versatile and allows Tanaka creative freedom.” His work seamlessly spans the categories of fiber art and sculpture. 

Art Update: What’s On in America and Abroad


Recall, Ane Henricksen, 2010. photo by Ane Henricksen

Recall, Ane Henricksen, 2010. photo by Ane Henricksen

Several artists represented by browngrotta arts are included in exhibitions in Europe and the US this Spring. Among the largest is Artapestry3 at the Jean-Lurçat Museum of Contemporary Tapestry in Angers, France. This is the third is edition of Artapestry3, an initiative launched by the European Tapestry Forum (ETF). The event contemporary  offers visitors an unusual perspective by aligning the works of 25 international textile artists, including Ane Hendricksen and Grethe Sørensen, with the Museum’s collection, which includes work by such artists as Paul Klee, Alexander Calder, Thomas Gleb, Magdalena Abakanowicz and Jean Lurçat. Also included in the exhibition are examples of traditional tapestry works whose iconographic repertory has inspired contemporary creation. The exhibition is structured around nine major themes that enable comparisons between the contemporary pieces that form part of Artapestry3 and the more traditional works from the Angers’ collections. Among these themes, in the Vitality section, a visitor may discover the Red Sun tapestry by Alexander Calder (1919-1976) alongside the lively motifs of Ariadna Donner’s The wolf crossed the road. In the Object section, visitors can admire Temps passé by Pierre Daquin (1936) next to Ivete Vecenáne’s The Bowl. The exhibition runs through May 18th. For more information visit the event website: musees.angers.fr/expositions/en-ce-moment/artapestry3-angers-allers-retours/artapestry3-angers-allers-retours/index.html.

Naoko Serino installing her works as "Fiber Futures" travels to Spain.

Naoko Serino installing her works as “Fiber Futures” travels to Spain.

Fiber Futures: Pioneers of Japanese Textile Art, continues its travels. It is open at c art c., the Computense Art Center in Madrid, Spainthrough May 18, 2014. The exhibition features Japan’s most important contemporary textile artists, including, Naoko Serino, Hideho Tanaka, Kiyomi Iwata, Naomi Kobayashi, Hisako Sekijima and Kyoko Kumai. For more information visit: www.ucm.es/.

works by Jennifer Falck Linssen and Norikko Takamiya

works by Jennifer Falck Linssen and Norikko Takamiya

In the US, in Mesa, Arizona, Norikko Takamiya and Jennifer Falck Linssen join an inventive group of artists working with paper.Fold, Paper, Scissors runs through August 10, 2014 at the Mesa Contemporary Art Museum. The Opening Reception is Friday, May 9th from 7 to 10 p.m. (We’ll be there!) The Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum at Mesa Arts Center is at One East Main Street, Downtown Mesa, Arizona, for more information, call: 480-644-6560 or visit:  www.MesaArtsCenter.com.

Big Tera, 2007 - Tissage de coton 259 x 127 cm

Big Tera, 2007 – Tissage de coton 259 x 127 cm

Lia Cook’s work is the subject of a one-person exhibition at the Drapers Gallery in Liege, BelgiumLia Cook: Icons Jacquard highlights faces woven in large scale on a Jacquard loom. For more information visit the Gallery’s site: www.lesdrapiers.be/events/lia-cook.