What is beauty? How can a simple basket evoke such visual pleasure? Is it the intricacy and careful detail? Is the curve itself so archetypically graceful, sensuous, provocative? Why does the observation of the obvious craftsmanship feel so intimate?
Fujinuma Noboru (b1945), one of the last traditionally trained bamboo basket weavers in Japan, has donated many of his personal pieces to the Art Institute of Chicago which has placed some of these bamboo baskets on display. Each of these baskets can take 3 to 6 months or more to weave. The training to become a basket weaver takes at least a decade. Then the weaver takes another two decades to become an artist, gaining recognition when they are in their fifties or sixties. This has been Fujinuma’s trajectory, winning his first prize in 1992 at the Traditional Japan Crafts Exhibition, for a piece which was subsequently purchased by the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo.
Fujinuma has named his pieces according to his intention or state of mind while creating them, like Spring Tide, Dawn, Calmly, Saint’s Cloud, Dream. These pieces are displayed to dramatic effect in the Ando Gallery (Gallery 109) at the AIC where the lights are very low and the room is absolutely still. Fujinuma’s art demonstrates dedication, discipline, and creative inspiration. His work simply takes your breath away.