Saturday, July 17 - Sunday, September 26, 2021
Tickets can be purchased from Lawson Ticket
It is with great pleasure that we present Ainu Woodcarver Fujito Takeki: Envoy of the Forest, a retrospective featuring more than 80 works by the late artist.
Bear Talk, 2018, private collection
Whole-Body Listening (detail), 2002, collection of Tsuruga Resort Co., Ltd.
Whole-Body Listening (detail)
Little Climbers, 2017, private collection
River’s Bounty (detail), 2000, collection of Tsuruga Resort Co., Ltd.
River’s Bounty (detail)
Fujito Takeki (1934–2018) was born to Ainu parents in the northeastern Hokkaido town of Bihoro and was raised in the city of Asahikawa, in central Hokkaido. From around the age of 12 he began carving under the tutelage of his father, who was among the first Ainu bear carvers of the early twentieth century. The junior Fujito eventually settled in the hot-spring town of Akanko, where his work flourished on the shores of Lake Akan. As a young man in his thirties he had already begun to receive commissions for life-sized Buddhist and other sculptures that would establish his name as an artist.
Polar Bear and Cubs (detail), 1999, private collection
Polar Bear and Cubs (detail)
A Sleuth of Bears, 1967, collection of Maeda Ippoen Foundation
A Sleuth of Bears
Bears Attack Buck, 1977, private collection
Bears Attack Buck
While Fujito went on to produce dozens of works addressing a number of subjects, throughout his career he considered himself a craftsman and a carver of bears. He never entered competitive exhibitions, nor did he especially seek out connections in the world of art. Still, his artistry could not be kept under wraps. As his commissions grew, so, too, did his name and following.
Hikawa Zenjiro, 1991; Sugimura Fusa, 1993; Kawakami Konusa, 1993; private collection
Hikawa Zenjiro; Sugimura Fusa; Kawakami Konusa
Gray Wolf Howls, 2018, private collection
Gray Wolf Howls
Tale of a Boy and Wolves, 2016, private collection
Tale of a Boy and Wolves
At once unrestrained and nuanced, Fujito’s distinctive style unites seemingly opposite qualities in woodworks that are robust in their appearance yet somehow gentle in their expression. Whether carving one of his signature bears or some other animal, he would work at a fast pace, single-mindedly focused on the piece. That concentrated energy seems to have transferred to his creations. Caught in some stop-action scene, they brim with the vigor of life while the finest soft detailing of fur, skin or feather belies that they emerged from a block of wood.