"For this installation, I used one of Nature’s own components, bamboo, which here expresses this connection between Nature, Humankind and History."
TANABE Chikuunsai IV carries on his shoulders the weight of a tradition nurtured in Osaka for centuries. Thanks to the techniques inherited from his ancestors and to his personal research, his monumental tiger bamboo installations, which completely take over their exhibition spaces, give visitors a genuine feel of the different characteristics of the plant. His sculptures present motifs inspired from nature while fiercely disapproving of the ever more industrialised environment in which humanity lives. At the same time, TANABE Chikuunsai IV’s woven bamboo sculptures represent connections between him and his family, him and the world – bringing to mind concepts ranging from the intimate to the universal.
Symbolising good omen, similar to the pine or the prune tree, bamboo is an incarnation of Japanese aesthetics. It stands tall and upright, its leaves producing a natural, soothing sound in the breeze. The artist only uses stalks of tiger bamboo (torachiku, torafudake) or black bamboo, which only grow in one place in Japan, where the soil endows them with these unique stripes.
“Chaumont-sur-Loire’s first fortress was built in the 10th century. My work was carried out in one of the buildings of Chaumont-sur-Loire’s “model farm”, construction of which began in 1903 and was completed ten years later.
Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire stands in generous natural surroundings, with the majestic River Loire flowing at its feet. When evening has fallen the stars sparkle down in the blackness of night. In the morning, you are awakened by the sound of birdsong and are instantly aware of the benevolence of the people around you.
The connection with nature in all its generosity is the source of Humankind’s existence on Earth, of the coexistence of Humankind and Nature.
For this installation, I used one of Nature’s own components, bamboo, which here expresses this connection between Nature, Humankind and History.
Feeling the might of the Royal River as it flows past the Château’s feet, I wanted to express the source of Humankind’s existence, its connection with Nature, by creating this work in a building steeped in History.” TANABE Chikuunsai IV
TANABE Chikuunsai IV
Tanabe Chikuunsai IV à Chaumont-sur-Loire, 2018 - © Minamoto Tadayuki
TANABE Chikuunsai IV comes from a very famous line of artists specialising in the art of bamboo.
He began to work this material while still a young boy, and when he joined the “sculpture” department of Tokyo University of Arts, his destiny to follow in his ancestors’ footsteps seemed all but mapped out before him. But he was not yet certain he wanted to spend the rest of his life working bamboo, and for several years pondered the purpose of his enrolment at the university, seeking out possibilities that would allow him to consider a different future, away from his family’s artistic tradition. He nevertheless ended up realising, after this time of doubting, that working bamboo was an integral part of his life.
In Oita, on the island of Kyushu – a major production hub for bamboo weaving, he learned different techniques from the ones he had been taught as a child. On his return, he began to work with his father and learned the techniques passed down by his ancestors, all the while continuing to hone his own techniques. TANABE bamboo art is characterised by a subtle combination of tradition and new techniques, created by each generation.
Takeo TANABE has exhibited his work in several countries abroad since 1999. In 2006, he received the artist name of Shôchiku TANABE (Shôchiku meaning “little bamboo”) and, recently, the artist name of TANABE Chikuunsai IV, following on from his father.
Chikuunsai IV’s grandfather, Chikuunsai II, had specialised in weaving light openwork, fashioned from extremely fine bamboo stalks. His father, Chikuunsai III, meanwhile, had developed a technique where bamboo talks could be used to create abstract forms of complex, parallel and non-woven architecture.
Chikuunsai IV has managed to tap into this rich range of techniques and styles in his training repertoire to develop his own style as the fourth generation of his lineage.