Friday, August 30 | 5–7pm
Saturday, August 31 | 3–4pm
Growing up, Monden Yuichi’s father, renowned bamboo artist Monden Kogyoku, discouraged him from pursuing a career as a bamboo artist because of the economic hardships of the life. Heeding his advice, Yuichi chose to become an engineer, but he continued to find himself drawn to bamboo.
According to Yuichi, “It was not until late one night in 1975, after my father was asleep, that I ventured alone into his studio and asked myself, “is it not a waste for me not to try expressing myself through bamboo?” That night, I started to teach myself how to work with bamboo. Later that year, I made my first simple bamboo basket… My only training was by examining my father’s work and experimenting with my own hands. Later, I felt a real need for more formal training to advance myself to a higher artistic level.”
In 1998, at the age of 56, Yuichi took early retirement and moved to Beppu to study at the Bamboo Training Center. After graduation, he spent two years studying under Tanabe Kochikusai, a top student of the first Living National Treasure in bamboo art, Shono Shounsai. A lifetime of education under some of bamboo art’s most experienced masters has given Yuichi some big shoes to fill, but he has now devoted himself to presenting a cohesive body of work which affirms his unique voice in the continued development of the art form.
While retaining a ‘family resemblance’ and making good use the lineage’s signature fallen-pine-needle plaiting style, Yuichi has elaborated upon the established aesthetics of his father’s pioneering bamboo sculptures with an energetic flourish. Hundreds of strips of carefully split bamboo are gathered together and wrested into flowing compositions. The controlled irregularity of the fallen pine needle plaiting is energetic and organic, evoking natural imagery, like the beating of a bird’s wings, as in Wing.
“The straight form of bamboo is deeply appealing to me as an art medium. When I cut into a culm of bamboo and it splits exactly in half, my heart is in each part. The preparation of the material really dictates the outcome of the artwork.“
A marathon runner with an exuberant personality, Yuichi brings a fresh, vibrant energy to his work.