Honma Hideaki

BIO/CV

b. 1959 Hatano-cho, Sado-gun, Niigata Prefecture, Japan

Exhibitions & Accolades
  • 1990

    Admitted for the first time to Niigata Prefecture Arts Exhibition (thereafter admitted 4 times)
    Winner of Governors Award at Niigata Contemporary Craft Arts Exhibition (thereafter won 3 other awards: Niigata Newspaper Award, Niigata Mayor’s Award, and Niigata Chamber of Commerce Award)

  • 1991

    Admitted for the first time to Japan Contemporary Craft Arts Exhibition (thereafter admitted 10 times)

  • 1992

    Admitted for the first time to Nitten-Japan Fine Arts Exhibition (thereafter admitted 6 times)
    Winner of Encouragement Award at Niigata Prefecture Arts Exhibition

  • 1993

    Winner of Encouragement Award at Niigata Prefecture Arts Exhibition

  • 1994

    Winner of Contemporary Art Award at Japan Contemporary Craft Arts Exhibition

  • 1996

    Winner of Niigata Prefecture Art Award at Niigata Prefecture Arts Exhibition

  • 2001

    Bamboo Fantasies, TAI Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

  • 2002

    The Next Generation, University of Arkansas, Little Rock
    Exhibited at Tigerman Himmel Gallery, Chicago, IL

  • 2003

    Special Demonstration and Exhibition at SOFA Chicago, IL
    Special Demonstration and Exhibition at International Asian Art Fair, New York, NY
    Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art, the Richmond Visual Arts Center, VA

  • 2006

    Power & Delicacy: Master Works of Japanese Bamboo Art, TAI Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
    Hin: The Quiet Beauty of Japanese Art, Grinnell College, IA and Chicago Cultural Center, IL
    Exhibited at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, MA

  • 2007

    The Next Generation Exhibition, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA
    First solo exhibition in the U.S., TAI Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
    Intertwined: Contemporary Baskets from the Sara and David Lieberman Collection, Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, AZ

  • 2008

    New Bamboo: Contemporary Japanese Masters, Japan Society, New York, NY

  • 2009

    Intertwined: Contemporary Baskets from the Sara and David Lieberman Collection, The New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM
    Many Shapes of Bamboo III, Oita Prefecture Art Museum

  • 2010

    Intertwined: Contemporary Baskets from the Sara and David Lieberman Collection, Museum of Art and Design, New York, NY

  • 2011

    Many Shapes of Bamboo V, Oita Prefectural Art Museum

  • 2012

    Sado Contemporary show with student, Watanabe Chiaki, TAI Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

  • 2013

    Birds in the Art of Japan, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
    Tokyo Governor’s Prize, Japan Modern Craft Arts Exhibition

  • 2014

    Tokusen Prize, Japan Fine Arts Exhibition

  • 2017

    Masterpieces of Japanese Bamboo Art, TAI Modern at Joan B Mirviss LTD, New York, NY


Museum Collections
  • Art Institute of Chicago, IL
    Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA
    Clark Center for Japanese Art & Culture, Hanford, CA


Professional Associations
  • Member of the Contemporary Craft Artists Association
    Head of the Niigata Contemporary Craft Artists Association


ARTIST STATEMENT

In bamboo art, one usually learns traditional basket making before moving on to making bamboo sculpture. A student would learn the entire process of making a basket from start to finish. Contrarily, I started my artistic career late in life when I began assisting in my father Honma Kazuaki’s studio. He was one of the best-known bamboo sculptors in Japan and, at the same time, he owned a successful bamboo craft manufacturing business. Until the early 1990s, tourism in Sado Island, where we lived, was thriving, and Kazuaki’s bamboo broaches in particular were extremely popular. At the height of the business, he had a few dozen workers making a variety of bamboo articles and souvenirs that he’d designed. In 1986, I started helping with material preparation. The production studio was similar to a factory assembly line: some workers split bamboo, some did dye work, and some wove the strips. As Kazuaki’s oldest assistants began retiring, I was eventually given full responsibility for preparing (splitting, cutting, beveling) the material for bamboo broach production and also bent a lot of nemagari, a type of dwarf bamboo, for other small souvenir items. By splitting and bending bamboo every day for many hours, I became good at those skills, but I didn’t learn how to do anything else.

Honma Kazuaki spent a couple of months out of the year creating his own art, which he submitted to annual spring and fall competitions. In time, I was allowed to observe and then to assist in his art making. Kazuaki’s favorite plaiting technique back then was matsuba-ami (pine needle plaiting), so I became familiar with that style of plaiting and its variant seikai-ami (blue ocean plaiting) before I even learned to make simple mutsume-ami (hexagonal plaited) baskets. In 1990, I used my free time at night experimenting with making my own bamboo sculpture using these techniques.  I had to overcome my technical limitations and lack of basic basket-making knowledge to translate my ideas into three-dimensional forms. Later that year, I made my first bamboo sculpture Snail, which I submitted to the Niigata Prefectural Art Exhibition.

Without realizing it, I eventually developed a process similar to sculptors in different mediums. I sketch out many ideas and make small maquettes to realize them in three-dimensions. Once the scale is determined, I make an armature out of wood and look for the right bamboo to make my vision a reality. The final drawing is life-size, and I bend the nemagari over a flame carefully to match the lines on the paper. Once the nemagari has been shaped, I attach it to the armature, and it acts as the skeleton of the sculpture I intend to create. Then, I fill in the empty spaces with plaited bamboo. I adjust proportions and ensure that the piece has proper surface textures. I later learned that this process is rather unique among bamboo artists. Other bamboo sculptors usually work from the bottom up in a manner similar to making a basket. In the beginning, I thought not knowing the basics of basket making was a disadvantage, but it actually allowed me to think freely and helped me develop my own method and personal style.

  • Masterpieces of Japanese Bamboo Art

  • The Next Generation

  • Japanese Bamboo and the World Expo: A Century of Discovery

  • Honma Hideaki

  • Sado Contemporary: Sculpture by Honma Hideaki & Watanabe Chiaki