PRESS RELEASE – Nagakura Kenichi


Nagakura Kenichi

July 8 – July 24, 2016

Artist’s Reception: Friday, July 8, 5:00 – 7:00 pm


SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO—TAI Modern is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition by Nagakura Kenichi. This will be the artist’s ninth solo exhibition with the gallery.

Nagakura has been an esteemed independent artist for more than 30 years. His organic, contemporary pieces are rooted in the functional baskets and flower arranging vessels made for centuries in Japan but also borrow from wide-ranging sources, including European sculpture, the American pop art movement, indigenous Japanese forms, and cord-patterned clay work from the 3rd and 2nd millennia B.C. His most recent artistic influences include the richly material paintings of Anselm Kiefer and the rough-hewn statues made by the itinerant 17th century Buddhist monk Enku.

However, throughout the entirety of his career, Nagakura’s primary inspiration has been the natural world. “For me, inspiration comes from the workings of nature, both large and small, near and distant,” the artist states. “My desire is to share with other human beings the silent voice of nature.”

Many of the new works in this show feature a recently invented technique by Nagakura, where he uses washi paper to reinforce the bamboo surfaces. The strength and flexibility of the paper allows the artist retain realize thinner and more lissome shapes while retaining the densely textured surfaces he is known for. The work twists and turns in leaf-like spirals, but feature just enough abstraction to keep their sculptural autonomy.

Nagakura began his career dyeing fabric for kimonos but quickly realized he wanted to make art. He spent three years splitting bamboo for his grandfather, who was a bamboo craftsman. After forming a deep connection with the material, he began to break away from traditional basketry.

In 2000, Nagakura was the first ever recipient of the Cotsen Bamboo Prize. A bold iconoclast in an art form rich with history and tradition, Nagakura bucks convention. In an essay on Nagakura’s work, Robert T. Coffland states, “It is traditional in Japan for an artist to join an arts organization. Such a relationship between an individual artist and an organization provides a venue for acceptance. Nagakura has chosen not to follow this path so that he can pursue his novel approach to bamboo art.”

Nagakura has exhibited internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Japan, France, Belgium and the United States. His work has been exhibited at institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA; Museum of Art and Design, New York; New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM; Asia Society, New York; Chicago Cultural Center, IL; Denver Botanic Gardens, CO; Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Ishigami-no-Oka Open Air Museum, Iwate, Japan; and the Japan Society, New York, NY.

TAI Modern is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For further information and image requests, contact Nicole Brouillette at (505) 984-1387 or

TAI Modern is able to provide translation services to the press for questions or written communication with the artist.