By Joe Earle, Director, Japan Society, Gallery, New York
Tetsunori Kawana was a pupil of Teshigahara Hiroshi (1927-2001), who was a leading figure in the development of postwar Japanese modernism. Kawana served also for many years as Teshigahara Hiroshi’s artistic assistant in his many projects both in Japan and internationally. Based now in both New Jersey and Tokyo, Kawana has followed in his master’s footsteps concentrating on installations using bamboo: recent bamboo projects include installations at the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow; the skating rink at Rockefeller center, New York; and vast centerpieces for New York Botanical Garden’s Kiku (Chrysanthemun) exhibitions in the fall of 2007 and 2008 In 2008 Japan Society commissioned Kawana to create a work to mark the opening of the Society’s “New Bamboo” exhibition. Made entirely of split bamboo from the state of Georgia, the installation was located in and around one of the clusters of living bamboo growing in a pond on the first floor of the Society’s celebrated Manhattan building, designed by another outstanding Japanese modernist, Yoshimura Junzo (1908-1997). Kawana conceived the piece as kakoi (enclosure), a primitive prototype for the intimacy of the classic teahouse. Within the temporary bamboo grove formed by the kakoi, our five senses become unusually receptive of earth, water, fire, wind, and sky. It is only when the viewer experiences this sense of psychological well-being, Kawana writes, that the kakoi becomes a complete work of art.