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'Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper'
For over 1,000 years, Japan has produced some of the world’s finest paper, using strong natural fibers and exceptional production techniques passed down through the generations. Japanese handmade paper, known as washi (和紙) is still made in some areas of Japan and used in painting, calligraphy, origami, and other traditional art forms.
Recently, contemporary Japanese artists have been turning to this supple yet sturdy material, using it as a medium for creating highly textured two-dimensional works, complex sculptures, and dramatic installations. Employing techniques ranging from layering, weaving, and dying, to twisting, folding, and cutting, these artists demonstrate the endless contemporary applications of this ancient material.
This exhibition, "Washi Transformed," focuses on washi as a medium for contemporary art in Japan and spotlights the works of nine very different contemporary Japanese artists who are exploring the artistic potential of this traditional material.
The artists – Hina Aoyama, Eriko Horiki, Kyoko Ibe, Yoshio Ikezaki, Kakuko Ishii, Yuko Kimura, Yuko Nishimura, Takaaki Tanaka, Ayomi Yoshida – all push the boundaries of Japanese washi art in terms of texture, dimension, and scale, creating works that challenge our assumptions about the nature of the material. Their abstract paper sculptures, lyrical folding screens, dramatic installations, and highly textured wall pieces all demonstrate the resilience and versatility of washi as a medium in the realm of international contemporary art.
"Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper" was organized by Meher McArthur and is toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC. It is on view at Mingei International Museum from Oct. 14, 2023 – Jan. 7, 2024.