Ito was born in Shizuoka Prefecture, educated at the Tokyo University of Art and Design, and now resides in Chiba Prefecture. The word 'uta' means a poem, an ode or a song, and Ito has been working on this serially numbered theme for a while. Although in this series he is exploring the 'twists and turns' of his own mind, a print such as this unwittingly serves as an apt expression of the urban bonsai. For Ito the bonsai is the condensed expression of Japanese spiritual culture. His prints presuppose the discipline and technical mastery that precedes spiritual understanding in all Japanese arts, whether calligraphy, flower arranging or swordsmanship.
Appropriate to a modern world in which artificial materials have usurped the natural, Ito's smooth metallic-type bars with the keenness of sword blades, have the contrived placement of a bonsai in its pot. As with other artists, Ito celebrates the artificial, the simulated and the urban environment replete with its man-made materials. As in traditional ikebana, and in modern sculpture, architecture and urban planning, the space, or interval (in Japanese 'ma') is an important element in his composition.
Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Japanese Prints: The Urban Bonsai, 1992, pg. 36.
Place where the work was made
Heisei period 1989 - → Japan
woodcut and screenprint
42.0 x 86.0 cm image; 48.0 x 93.0 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r., pencil "(illeg.) 90".
Gift of the artist 1993
Not on display
Where the work was made
Shown in 1 exhibition
The Urban Bonsai:
- Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane 04 Mar 1992–04 May 1992
- National Art Gallery, Wellington, Wellington 20 Jun 1992–09 Aug 1992
- Christchurch Art Gallery, Christchurch 12 Sep 1992–29 Oct 1992
- Manawatu Art Gallery, New Zealand 13 Nov 1992–10 Jan 1993
- The George Adams Gallery, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne 18 Mar 1993–25 Apr 1993
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 08 May 1993–01 Aug 1993
- Lewers Bequest and Penrith Regional Art Gallery, Emu Plains 11 Mar 1994–24 Apr 1994
- Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra 19 May 1994–19 Jun 1994
- Campbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown 15 Jul 1994–21 Aug 1994
- Moree Plains Gallery, Moree 11 Nov 1994–24 Dec 1994
- Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre, Murwillumbah 01 Feb 1995–05 Mar 1995
Referenced in 1 publication
Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Japanese Prints : The Urban Bonsai, Sydney, 1992, 36, 45 (colour illus.). cat.no. 21