Celebration of Japanese art, culture and garden tradition as art installations come to life at Denver Botanic Gardens
DENVER— This season Denver Botanic Gardens proudly unveils the new Bill Hosokawa Bonsai Pavilion and Tea Garden with an expanded Japanese Garden (Shofu-En). Kizuna, meaning “the bonds between people” in Japanese, celebrates the profound influence Japan has had on the West with a presentation of large site-specific art installations in bamboo by internationally-known artists Tetsunori Kawana and Stephen Talasnik. Explore bamboo’s power and versatility in a variety of forms, including living plant displays on view at the Gardens May 5 – November 4, 2012.
Tetsunori Kawana is a contemporary Japanese installation artist and ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) master. His bamboo installations have been exhibited internationally at institutions including the New York Botanical Gardens, the Moscow National Museum of Russian Fine Art, the 1996 Arte Sella Biennale (Italy), and the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia. Kawana has long held natural materials close to the heart of his artistic practice. A student of Hiroshi Teshigahara, third grand master of the progressive Sogetsu School of Ikebana, Kawana’s background in living materials and responsiveness to the rhythms of nature lent itself naturally to sculpture with similar sensibilities. Kawana translates the philosophy of ikebana into architecturally-sized bamboo sculptures emphasizing the beauty, strength and flexibility of the medium. With acute sensitivity to both the drama and subtlety of nature, he transforms poles of bamboo into breathtaking structures of energy and power. His works not only engage an individual’s five senses, but also harness the principles of godai, the Japanese philosophy of five elements: Earth, Fire, Wind, Water and Void (sky). Kawana works in green bamboo, which he splits, bends and manipulates into surprising forms that are individually designed for each site.
Stephen Talasnik is a critically-acclaimed draftsman, sculptor and installation artist whose work reflects a conversation between fine art and architecture. Featured in the New York Times and in Sculpture magazine, Talasnik has exhibited internationally at institutions including Storm King Art Center (NY), Marlborough Gallery (NYC), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Germany). His work is held in the permanent collections of institutions throughout the world, with notable collections including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; the Metropolitan Museum (NY); the British Museum in London; the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C.; and the Albertina, Vienna.
A graduate of the famed Rhode Island School of Design, Talasnik spent several years teaching in Tokyo and studying architecture before moving to New York in 1991. Talasnik draws on many influences, ranging from 1960s futurism to urban planning and visionary architecture. Also present in his work are the fluid forms of nature and the exacting skill of both Piranesi and Brunelleschi.
In 2000 Talasnik began producing both large- and small-scale bamboo sculptures of the same complex, visionary structures that seem to hang weightless in his drawings. Forms meander like rivers or appear to float in space. After an intense design process, Talasnik uses hundreds of bamboo poles to construct large, site-specific structurally-transparent sculptures
See the Artists at Work
April 18 – May 3; times vary within open hours
See the art installations come to life as artists Tetsunori Kawana and Stephen Talasnik construct their work in public view on the grounds. Witness the transformation of hundreds of poles of bamboo.
The Gardens is offering many related exhibitions and programs for adults, families and youth. These include guided tours, workshops and related exhibitions which highlight a variety of Japanese traditions. Please visit www.botanicgardens.org  for the most current information on these and other offerings.