AKIRA OKADA

Born in 1972
Japan

Akira Okada is one of the best Japanese artists of contemporary Bamboo Arts and Crafts. This unknown-poetic-complexe art of bamboo weaving has evolved over time : sometimes without any functions, these works become real sculptures, like Akira Okada’s creations.

At the beginning, the art of bamboo basketry is closely linked to the development of the tea ceremony which arrived from China to Japan around the 8th and 9th centuries : this is the reason why Japanese handcrafted Bamboo Arts was first inspired by the Chinese models. Artists begin a profound revival of this ancestral art only during the Meiji era (1868-1912) : the pioneer figures of Iizuka Rokansai and Hayakawa Shôkosai freed themselves from Chinese models and invented their own inventive and refined language. From tea ceremony floral containers to no-function sculptures, including decorative vases, contemporary creations are free from their primary function. Artists now deliver plural, personal and intense visions with great originality. The recent exhibition at the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in Paris (France), « Fendre l’air. Art du bambou au Japon » (November 27, 2018 – April 7, 2019) underlined this ancient art combining the perfection of ancestral skills with artistic poetry.

Akira Okada, born in Chiba (Japan) in 1972, does not intend to follow traditional Bamboo Arts and Crafts path. Indeed, after a degree in information engineering obtained at the university of his native town in 1995, he works in precision equipment for industry until 2012, when he learned Oita Prefectural Technical Institute in the Beppu city had a special training center for bamboo arts : he left his job to fully embrace this new activity. Graduated with flying colors, he is one of the 5 students selected to continue the advanced courses : in 2013 he was certified by the Department of Bamboo Arts from Beppu Advanced Industrial Arts and Technology Institute. He completes his training with one of the best masters of Japanese Bamboo Arts, Jin Morigami. He stayed in his workshop from 2014 to 2016 perfecting his art and absorbing all the talent of his mentor.
His career was lightning and crowned with success : he is invited in a lot of exhibitions and wins plenty of awards and prizes : already in 2014, as a proof of his talent, he won the « New Face Award », during an exhibition at Tochigi ( Japan) ; in 2015, he won the Emerging Artist Prize at the 19th All Japan Bamboo Exhibition ; he won the Oita Prefectural Governor Prize twice, during the 52nd and the 53rd Lifestyle with Bamboo Art Crafts Exhibition ; in 2017, he received the Traditional Craft Products Industry Promotion Association Award.

The art of Akira Okada is incredibly fine and precise : thanks to his rich background and his first degree, his work is a subtle mix of technical nature, a perfect medium understanding and a deep knowledge of engineering basketry. His gesture and his know-how are accurate : he gives to bamboo abstract shapes and delicate material power. The abundant beauty of his noble and evanescent weaving is extremely delicate. True apparitions, his pieces of art are aerial sculptures that are both subtle and strong •

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