Hamadawashi ‘Zokuzokusuru Washi’ Exhibition

Gallery Tsukigime is pleased to present a solo exhibition of Hamadawashi , Zokuzokusuru Washi (Thrilling Washi).

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Hamadawashi is a washi-paper manufacturer found in the Tenpō era (1830 - 1844) in Kamiya Village, Kochi Prefecture.  They are acknowledged as the only washi atelier in the world holding the technique to manufacture Tosa Tengujo-shi Washi paper, which at 0.03mm in thickness, is the world’s thinnest handmade Japanese paper. Hamada brothers, Hironao (born 1977) and Osamu (born 1979) are currently running the atelier, making the traditional paper as well as washi with a new definition defined by themselves.  Hamada brothers have been actively expanding the potential of washi in wide ranges of fields using the technique and knowledge they inherited. In recent years, they designed an architectural space using washi, and also have been involved in the development of new materials and other washi-related designs.

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The roots of the inspiration for colours and textures of the Hamada brothers' works are in the environment where they were born and raised in.  They were not only influenced by the beautiful natural scenery of Kochi but also the national and international cultural elements of humanity. In this exhibition, Hamada brothers will present works created with expressions that can only be done by Hamadawashi, an atelier familiar with the process of cooking firewood (plants), the main raw material of washi, and imparting colours and light.

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The theme and title of this exhibition Zokuzokusuru Washi (Thrilling Washi), is intended to release the soft general image of washi, such as silence, relaxation, and calmness. The steel exhibition frames jointly produced with uiw not only provoke rare unwavering harmony of iron and Japanese paper, but they are carefully designed in consideration of light insertion, in order to effectively sense the transmitted light of the rattan fibre.  

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The works are free of solidifying solvent that is usually indispensable for modelling.  Instead, Hamada brothers play with the nature of the fibre, constructing three-dimensional surface using just water and the deep colours are expressed by layering one dye colour at a time.  In such ways, Hamada brothers’ expressions are a combination of unique traditional knowledge and techniques and avant-garde sensibility, which overturns the image of the word “tradition”, leading one into the unknown world of Washi-paper.

Hamadawashi believes that the strength of washi is not only its robustness, but the flexibility and adaptability to last without deterioration for a thousand years. To verify that, their washi is used to restore international masterpieces including the Sistine Chapel ceiling, Michelangelo's Last Judgment, Ukiyoe collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Louvre Museum collections. Domestically, they are used for the restoration of important cultural assets such as Nijō Castle and Ginkakuji in Kyoto. The continuous demand from such important cultural institutions both domestically and internationally simply proves the high quality of Japanese paper itself.  Hamadawashi’s paper is also used by contemporary artists such as Carole Benzaken and Japanese calligraphy artist Shishu.

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