A sculptor who tries to capture the breath of life that exists in nature, Tetsuro Kadonaga began work with wood carving in his 30’s, after previous experience with photography and painting. Although he created artworks only in his spare time and had limited opportunities to exhibit them, news of his vibrant bird sculptures spread by word of mouth among other artists and his reputation has grown among those with deep knowledge of the art scene.
We hope you enjoy his works not only for their form but also for the “precision” with which he captures the expressions and blessings of nature.
About the artwork “Cho Baika” - Tetsuro Kadonaga
Cho Baika is the Japanese term for a flower pollinated by birds.
Many varieties of these flowers can be seen in tropical forests, which are home to diverse plant and animal life, but they are a rare sight in regions of high snow fall and in Japan are limited largely to snow camelias and the birds associated with them.
In the Shimane peninsula, home to Izumo Taisha shrine, Cho baika are found despite the harsh winter snow, due to the warm water of the Tsushima current that sweeps across the coastline. This results in an abundance of flowering camelia trees. They are the only tree whose flowers bloom within the wintry forest and their oil is mentioned frequently in Japanese mythology as a product for barter.
With no insects carrying out pollination in the winter, the only bird that visits to seek the flower’s nectar and spread its seeds is the Japanese white-eye. For the Japanese white-eye as well, the camelia is an important element of survival in the winter, when insects are hidden in snow and there are no other sources of nourishment. Thus, the camelia and Japanese white-eye are both irreplaceable parts of the forest’s eco system.
One of the things that led me to begin creating artworks based on the theme of the camelia and the Japanese white-eye was the black camelia tree known as “Yomi no Kuro” (Black of the Netherworld) that was discovered in Sagiura, the area surrounding Izumo Taisha shrine, and the man that I became acquainted with who was in charge of its conservation.
I first met this man at a solo exhibition I held in Matsue and upon seeing my artwork, he related with excitement the story of the black camelia, Yomi no kuro, which had only just been discovered at Izumo Taisha shrine and produced black flowers. He then promised to give me a tour of the grounds and show me the tree that winter.
In February, as the winter waves beat down on Uppurui and the mountain streams flowing from Sagiura contributed to peak chill, the camelia flowers were in full bloom and several Japanese white-eyes traversed the skies in search of their blossoms (watching them, I noticed the birds would glide near the surface of the ground in the direction of the camelia’s pistols, then shoot up the stem and hang, drooping, from their target. Then, after obtaining their fill of the nectar, they would seemingly plunge to the ground and glide along before flapping their wings and soaring away).
As I observed the black camelia trees with their blossoms of crimson so dark they appeared black themselves, the man pointed out to me that the small wounds visible on the petals were marks left by the birds’ talons and a sign that pollination was complete. In addition, he shared with me that in Izu, where much of his knowledge of camelia cultivation was gained, these marks are referred to as haka (a term which signifies breaking of the hymen).
These words had a deep impact on me, signifying as they did the history of human interaction with camelias and the subtle relationships that have developed therein. That feeling of shock then widened slowly into something like anticipation and the many stories had told me about yomi no kuro and camelias began to transform within my mind to an exotic love story that takes place within the grounds of Izumo Taisha.
By coincidence, I also learned around that time that camelia trees are a quite superior medium for wood carvings and decided to create a piece from the material that would express the mythology that I had imagined. The work on display in this exhibition is the first in that series and I have named it Cho Baika.
01/06/2020(mon) - 26/06/2020(fri)11:00-17:00
※ We will open by appointment only during this exhibition on Saturdays and Sundays.
※The period of this exhibition has changed from May 11 - 22, 2020 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Due to popular demand, the exhibition period is extended till June 26 !!
Please contact us from here for appointment and any further enquiries.