Tag: Japanese sculpture

Artist Focus: Naoko Serino

Naoko Serino portrait
Naoko Serino, 2021

Japanese artist, Naoko Serino, our focus this week, works in jute, a remarkably adaptable material that provokes references to other biological structures. Jute’s golden sheen and sinuous strands “yield a most spectacular softness and luminosity,” notes author Moon Lee (http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/naoko-serino-spins-vegetable-fiber-into-golden-sculptures). In Serino’s work, “the natural fibers are spun densely or pulled thin, making for infinite gradations of densities. Irregular shapes in varying degrees of transparency provoke an effect that is strongly biological. Spheres, tubes, tubes contained within spheres, spheres contained within cubes, and rows of coiled strands evoke thoughts of phospholipid bilayers of cell membranes, veins, sea sponges, and so forth.” 

Existing -2-D
13ns Existing -2-D, Naoko Serino, jute, 56″ x 56″ x 11″, 2006

Serino creates her sculptures by first covering molds with jute fibers, which she removes when they have dried, creating a final work combining individual fiber elements. Some of the works that Serino creates are small individual pieces, while others are installations that are large enough to fill an entire room. Despite the fragile appearance of the jute fibers, the works have an imposing presence. 

Existing II
12ns Existing II, Naoko Serino, jute 7.375” x 8.5” x 8.5”, 2016. Photo by Tom Grotta

“I moved to a seaside town 30 years ago. I felt the light and wind there and my feelings were stirred by my proximity to Nature,” Serino says. “I began to see with new eyes and I discovered a material, jute. I think the discovery was inevitable. In and through my hands, a dignified hemp produces a shape that contains both light and air. I am grateful that I came across this material. It is a joy for me to express things with jute that stir deep emotions in me. I see myself continuing to express my feelings in this form.”

Generating outside
Generating Outside, Naoko Serino, jute, 39.5″ x 24″ x 4″, 2020. Photo by Naoko Serino

Serino’s work was included in the Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers exhibition which traveled from Japan to New York, Milan, Copenhagen and other venues. She was awarded the Silver Prize in the 10th Kajima Sculpture Competition and the Encouragement Award in the 16th Kajima Sculpture Award in 2020. She was a awarded the first prize in the Collection Arte & Arte alla Torre delle Arti di Bellagio, Como, Italy in 2014, the Silver Prize in the 10th Kajima Sculpture Competition and the Encouragement Award in the 16th Kajima Sculpture Award in 2020.

Generating Mutsuki
17ns Generating Mutsuki, Naoko Serino, jute, 9.5″ x 8″ 8″, 2021. Photo by Tom Grotta

Serino is one of the artists whose work is included in browngrotta arts’ next Art in the Barn exhibition, Adaptation: Artists Respond to Change (May 8th – May 16th) http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php. Her work for the exhibition, Generating-Mutsuki, came out of her desire to create a work along the lines of the large-scale sculpture she created for Kajima Sculpture competition in a smaller size.


Spotlight on Bamboo: Bamboo Baskets Get the Nod at the Met

Japanese Bamboo Art: The Abbey Collectionis the first show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to concentrate on basketry, it features works of Japanese bamboo art dating from the late 19th century to the present—the period when basketry in Japan became recognized as an art form that transcends “craft.” The exhibition showcases more than 80 bamboo baskets and sculptures created by accomplished artists, including all six masters who have received the designation “Living National Treasure.” It celebrates the promised gift to the Met of more than 70 mostly extraordinary bamboo baskets and sculptures from the New York collectors Diane and Arthur Abbey. The exhibition also includes a site-specific installation, The Gate, by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV, a fourth-generation bamboo artist born in 1973, meandering forms, that Roberta Smith says have “an animated-cartoon energy and snap; they cavort almost wickedly.” “Throughout the exhibition,” Smith continues. ” you will see basketry abstracted, deconstructed and all but exploded in the hands of successive generations of artists.” The exhibition will be open through February 2018 — it is not to be missed.

The Gate by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV, Tiger bamboo, 2017, Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

A number of the artists exhibited by browngrotta arts have frequently worked with bamboo. Jiro Yonezawa , awarded the Lloyd Cotsen Bamboo Prize in 2006, is a master — creating vessels, seductive objects and human-size sculptures.

Red Heat Haze by Jiro Yonezawa, bamboo and thread, 100″ x 13.5″, 2004, Photo: Tom Grotta

While Yonezawa harvests and prepares his own bamboo, (and speaks about that process here), Dona Anderson repurposes the bamboo she uses from kendo and hockey sticks to create vessels and sculptures. She began in the 1980s, making a series of missiles of bamboo sticks combined with colored fabrics stitched with a sewing machine, each nearly five feet high.
Nancy Moore Bess has studied bamboo extensively. She is the author of Bamboo in Japancalled by Donald Richie

” a compendium of information that is not likely to be soon duplicated.” She is also the creator of works that combine bamboo and waxed linen. “I met Tanabe-san on the first tour,” Bess writes. “He is a lovely young man.” The entry piece in Japanese Bamboo Art: The Abbey Collection is “ spectacular” in Bess’s view. The artist/author met Yamagishi-san who provided the Tiger Bamboo in the Met exhibition and from which The Gate is made, when she was researching the book. “Interestingly,” Bess writes, “if you take a rhizome of his tosatorafudake (tiger bamboo from Tosa, had to show off a bit) and plant it anywhere else, the skin does not develop the distinctive tiger markings!”

The exhibition will be open through February 2018 — it is not to be missed. For more information on the show click here. The show’s catalog is available in The Met’s online store here.


Influence and Evolution Update: The Influencers – Japan

Masakazu and Naomi Kobayashi 1999 browngrotta arts installation. Photo © Tom Grotta

Masakazu and Naomi Kobayashi 1999 browngrotta arts installation. Photo © Tom Grotta

The role of Eastern European and US artists in challenging tapestry traditions in the 1960s is well documented. By the mid-70s, however, artists from in Japan were gaining attention for own fiber experiments. Among the most prominent, a Kyoto couple, Masakazu and Naomi Kobayashi. Both were invited to the prestigious 7th Lausanne Biennial of International in 1975. In her historical essay, “The Lausanne Tapestry Biennials,” (16th Lausanne International Biennial: Criss-Crossings, 1995, pp. 36-53), Erika Billeter says Masakazu’s work of wires undulating like

Detail of Masakazu Kobayashi, Space Ship 2000, photo by Tom Grotta

Detail of Masakazu Kobayashi, Space Ship 2000, photo by Tom Grotta

waves was “ particularly noticeable.” This she describes as “neither a mural tapestry, nor a sculpture, nor an an object. It is simply textile.” She describes Naomi’s work at the Biennial as similarly thought provoking — a piece laid on the ground made of white juxtaposed pyramids. “[J]ust how dominant the Japanese were in producing thread structures is apparent in the works by Masakazu Kobayashi. “ Billeter has written elsewhere. His woven Waves in dyed threads rank[s] among the most perfect in aesthetic effectiveness ever produced by contemporary weaving….This Japanese way of conjuring up such transparency with threads, of perceiving the thread itself as something creative is highly artistic. They celebrate aesthetic beauty in a way no one can elude.” From “Textile Art and the Avant-garde,” Erika Billeter (Contemporary Textile Art: the Collection of the Pierre Pauli Association, Benteli, Bern / Fondation Toms Pauli, Lausanne, 2000, pp. 52-65.)

Naomi Kobayashi 2000 paper and thread detail, photo by tom Grotta

Naomi Kobayashi 2000 paper and thread detail, photo by Tom Grotta

Works by Naomi Kobayahsi and Masakazu Kobayashi (who died in 2004) will be included in Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now at browngrotta arts, Wilton, Connecticut from April 24th through May 3rd. They include a wave work by Masakazu, and two small pyramids by Naomi. These works will be joined by another four dozen works, some by artists prominent in the 60s and 70s and others by artists born in 1960 or after, who have continued experiments in fiber. Influence and Evolution, which opens at 1pm on April 24th. The Artists Reception and Opening is on Saturday April 25th, 1pm to 6pm. The hours for Sunday April 27th through May 3rd are 10am to 5pm. To make an appointment earlier or later, call: 203-834-0623.


25 at 25 at SOFA NY Countdown: Naoko Serino

4ns Generating-4 detail, Naoko Serino, photo by Tom Grotta

At SOFA NY browngrotta arts will present two dramatic works of jute by Japanese artist Naoko Serino. “Jute is attractive as it is, transient but also solid,” explains Serino. “Transforming jute into a fibrous material, I feel that the possibilities of expression have opened up and been induced, and eventually a three-dimensional expression is born, containing both light and air.” In creating  Generating-3, which will be displayed at SOFA New York, Serino was inspired by a Philodendron selloum bud and flower that she tended for 22 years before it bloomed, for just one day. Serino was taken by its strength and beauty.

4ns Generating-4, Naoko Serino, jute, 39″ x 39″ x 6.5″, 2012, photo by Tom Grotta

Generating-4, a standalone sculpture of jute that is more than three feet high will also be displayed at SOFA NY. “When my inner memory is stimulated,” Serino says, “I turn the fundamental illusion into a ‘shape’ and  I am able to enjoy interacting with shapes far beyond my imagination.” Serino’s’s work was included in the Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers exhibition which traveled from Japan to the Japan Society in New York last year. her work has also appeared in the Museum Rijswijk,  Haag, the Netherlands; Kajima Ki Building, Tokyo, Japan; Church of San Francesco, Como, Italy; Musée des Beaux Arts, Tournai, Belgium;  Gwangju Art Museum,Korea;  Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China;  Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan; Urasoe Museum, Okinawa, Japan;  and St. Amandsberg Chapel, Ghent, Belgium.