Born in Nagoya, in 1941, Kyoko Ibe first worked with washi-traditional Japanese hand-made paper-during the 1960s. She is now one of Japan's most senior and respected artists in the medium, creating site-specific installations and theater sets that can fill large architectural spaces, as well as more domestic-scale panels and folding screens fashioned out of dyed and pulped antique documents originally brushed with handwriting in sumi ink.
These panels and screens combine multiple layers of representation and metaphor. In one sense almost pictorial, they can evoke the night sky, a stormy sea, or a distant mountain range, but each of them also powerfully conveys the artist's conviction that pre-industrial handmade paper is far superior to its contemporary counterpart and, just like old timber, grows ever more beautiful with the passage of time. Ink that was brushed onto the original documents makes an important contribution, surviving the dyeing and pulping processes to infuse Ibe's compositions with varying shades of gray that contribute to a unique aesthetic.
Ibe reveres old paper not only as an almost sacred raw material but also as an embodiment of the traditional Japanese sense of oneness with nature, along with the down-to-earth thrifty virtues of earlier times, when paper was a valued material, rarely discarded and often reused. Now that sustainability is a universal aspiration, Ibe's concept of her practice as an art of rebirth and renewal has come into its own, giving fresh significance to the old idea of kankonshi ("paper with its soul brought back to life") that "expresses and revives our shared human skill and compassion."
Appointed by the Japanese Government as a Special Advisor for Cultural Exchange, Ibe has worked in many parts of the world as an international ambassador for washi and is well known in the United States for her installations and stage designs. Her solo show "Washi Tales: The Paper Art of Ibe Kyoko" was held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2011 and in 2016 New York's Asia Society presented "Recycling: Washi Tales," a theatrical performance around four tales of paper making, in which Ibe's work played a prominent role.
1963 Kyoto Institute of Technology, Design Theory and Industrial Design
1967 Kyoto Institute of Technology, Master of Technology
1974 Gallery Shisendo, Kyoto
1974 Gallery Iteza, Kyoto
1975 Kintetsu Department Store, Osaka
1978 Gallery Beni, Kyoto
1979 Gallery Beni, Kyoto
1980 Gallery Maronie, Kyoto
Odakyu Halc Gallery, Tokyo
1984 Misawa Interior Gallery, Tokyo
Daimaru Department Store, Osaka
1985 Nordjyllands Kunstmuseum, Aalborg, Denmark
1986 "Washi Works '86," Gallery Space 21, Tokyo
"Kyoko Ibe Exhibition," Kyoto Municipal Museum of Craft Industry
1987 Nordjyllands Kunstmuseum, Aalborg, Denmark
1989 "Washi Works," Goethe Institute, Kyoto
1990 "Washi Works," exhibition with Andreas von Weizacker, Japan Cultural Institute, Köln, Germany
1991 "Washi Works," exhibition with Sachio Fujisaki, Atelierhaus Arlesheim, Basel Canton, Switzerland
1992 "Washi Works," Amuse, Tokyo
1993 Itami Craft Center, Itami, Hyōgo Prefecture
Misawa Art Gallery, Tokyo
1994 Librije Hedendaagse Kunst Zwolle, Hilversum, Netherlands
1995 Gallery Vromans, Amsterdam
1998 I Space Gallery, University of Illinois, Champaign, Ill.
2000 Fuji City Art Hall, Shizuoka, Japan
Exhibition with Yuh Yoshinaga, Gallery 1, Tokyo
Gallery L'Asiatique, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Ariz.
2001 Gallery Goraku, Tokyo
2002 Gallery L'Asiatique, Scottsdale, Ariz.
2003 Inochō Paper Museum, Inochō, Kōchi Prefecture, Japan
2005 Mino Paper Museum, Mino, Gifu Prefecture, Japan
2008 "The World of Yugen," Krannert Art Museum, Champaign, Ill.
2010 "Washi Tales," Darb 1718 Contemporary Art and Culture Center, Cairo
2011 "Washi Tales: Paper Art by Kyoko Ibe," Japanese Pavilion, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
"Washi Tales," James Heather Gallery, Palm Desert, Calif.
2013 "Washi Tales," Inga Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel
2015 Qatar Art Center, Doha, Qatar
2017 "Washi Tales," Stockton University Gallery, Galloway, N.J.
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
1976 Kyoto Craft Exhibition, Kyoto Craft Center
1977 Kyoto Craft Exhibition, Kyoto Craft Center
1978 Kyoto Craft Exhibition, Kyoto Craft Center
1980 Kyoto Craft Exhibition, Kyoto Craft Center
1981 Kyoto Design Forum, Kyoto Prefecture Art Museum
Modern craft exhibition, Malaysia; Philippines; Singapore; Indonesia
1982 "New Paper Works: Japan and Korea," Seoul Modern Art Museum; Kyoto Municipal Museum; Saitama Art Museum
1983 "Small Works," Maya Behn Gallery, Zurich
"Forum of Play," Craft Center Hall, Kyoto
"Kyoto Design Forum," Kyoto Prefecture Art Museum
Eleventh International Tapestry Biennale, Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland
"Paper Now in Japan," Axis Hall, Tokyo; Craft Center Hall, Kyoto; Shūkōsha Gallery, Fukuoka
1984 International Contemporary Art Exhibition, Montreal Contemporary Art Museum; Saquenay Museum, Québec, Canada
1985 "Japanese Autumn," Nordjyllands Kunstmuseum, Aalborg, Denmark
1986 "Fiber as Art: Part 1," Gallery Space 21, Tokyo
Kyoto Prefecture Art and Craft Selected Exhibition, Kyoto Prefecture Art Museum
1987 "Lighting Graffiti '87," Daimaru Art Museum, Osaka; Seibu Art Forum, Tokyo
"Fiber as Art: Part 2," Gallery Space 21, Tokyo
"Asahi Craft Exhibition," Hankyu Department Store, Osaka
1988 "My Mini Museum," Nerima Art Museum, Tokyo
Five-artist exhibition, Momtalvo Arts Center, Saratoga, Calif.
"Paper Forms," New Jersey Art Center, Summit, N.J.
International Paper Art Biennale, Leopold-Hoesch-Museum, Düren, Germany; Nordjyllands Kunstmuseum, Aalborg, Denmark
1989 Four-artist exhibition, Modern Art Museum, São Paulo
"International Paper Art Exhibition '89 Japan," Kyoto; Tokushima; Tokyo
1990 Third International Paper Art Biennale, Leopold-Hoesch-Museum, Düren, Germany
"Paper as Language," Inochō Paper Museum, Inochō, Kōchi Prefecture
1991 "Paper Has Possibility," Kuopio Museum, Savolinna Museum; Rovaniemi Museum, Finland
1992 "Paper Media", Fine Art Museum, Budapest
Asahi Craft Exhibition, Hankyu Department Store, Osaka
New Art and Craft Exhibition, Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts
1993 Japan-Canada Contemporary Paper Works Exhibition, Montréal City Gallery
1994 Japan Korea Art and Craft Exhibition, Osaka Contemporary Art Center; Kyoto Gallery,
1995 "Fiber as Art: Part 4," Osaka Art University Gallery; Tokyo; Kyoto
1996 "Fiber as Art: Part 5," Osaka Art University Gallery; Gallery 21, Tokyo
1997 "Ｗater, Ink, Paper," Sheehan Gallery, Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
1999 "Forum of Washi," Nerima Art Museum, Tokyo
2001 "Made in Japan," Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Bristol, England
"On Paper," Crafts Council, London
2002 "Territoires Partagés (Shared Territories)," exhibition with Georges Rousse, Centre d'art Rurart, Rusty, France
2003 "Global Art and History of Papermaking," National Fine Art Museum, Santiago, Chile
2004 Snyderman Gallery, Philadelphia
2005 Second exhibition of American and Japanese artists, Art Forum JARFO, Kyoto
Entrance atrium installation, Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking, Atlanta
Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, Maine
"Paper Now: 2005," Kyoto Institute of Technology, Kyoto
2006 Fifth International Textile Biennale, Snyderman Gallery, Philadelphia
2007 Three-artist exhibition, Art Forum JARFO, Kyoto
"Kyoko Ibe and Mark Lander: Indigenous Paper," Gallery 31, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
2009 Three-artist exhibition, Calvin Charles Gallery, Scottsdale, Ariz.
2011-2015 "Fiber Futures: Japan's Textile Pioneers," Tama Art University Museum, Tokyo; Japan Society Gallery, New York; San Francisco Craft Museum; Textile Museum, Finland; Maison du japon, Paris
2013 Three-artist exhibition for 2012 Kyoto Art and Culture Award
2018 Two-person exhibition, Erik Thomsen Gallery, New York
PUBLIC ART AND COMMISSIONS
1985 Tsukuba Expo '85, wall decoration for the Royal Guest House
Governor's Guest Room, Tokushima Prefecture Office
1990 Fuji Grand, Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture
Installation in Sakuya Konohanakan, host pavilion of the 1990 International Garden and Greenery Exhibition, Osaka
1992 Amulax Toyota, Tokyo
1993 Industrial Bank of Japan, Tokyo
1994 Mukō City Pool, Mukō City, Kyoto Prefecture
Mukō City Fukushi Kaikan, Mukō City, Kyoto Prefecture
1995 Kyoto Exhibition City Hall
"Cosmo '95 Kyoto Prefecture Fukushi Kaikan
1998 Finalist for Midway Airport art project, Chicago
2000 "Asuka," Ikiiki Plaza, Chiba City
2001 "San San," Acta Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture
2002 "Yuki," Sapporo International Convention Center
2004 "Cosmo," entrance atrium, Wisconsin Heart Hospital, Milwaukee
2005 Installation in entrance lobby of Emory Crawford Long Hospital, Atlanta
Art Institute of Chicago
Kyoto Prefecture Museum
Kyoto Institute of Technology Museum
Krannert Art Museum, Illinois University, Champaign, Ill.
Los Angeles County Museum, Japanese Pavilion
Mino Paper Museum, Gifu
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Mo.
Nordjyllands Kunstmuseum, Aalborg, Denmark
Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking, Atlanta
University of Québec, Canada
Utah Fine Art Museum, Salt Lake City
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, Ariz.
1976 Kyoto Craft Exhibition, Second Prize
1977 Kyoto Craft Exhibition, Third Prize
1980 Kyoto Craft Exhibition, First Prize
1981 Kyoto Design Forum, Second Prize
1986 Kyoto Prefecture Art and Craft Exhibition (work purchased by the Prefecture Office)
1987 Fourth Annual Isadora Duncan Award, San Francisco
1988 Eighth Avon Award, Art Prize, Tokyo
1989 First Annual Akebono Prize, Kyoto
1990 Paulista Society of Art Critics Art Award, São Paulo
1993 Merit Prize of Kyoto Prefecture, Culture Award
2002 Japan Traditional Art Organization Annual Award, Tokyo
2012 Kyoto Art and Culture Annual Award
2019 Kyoto City Cultural Merit Laureate Award
THEATER WORK AND PEFORMANCES
1982 Stage art for drama "Izumo no Okuni," Kyoto Prefecture Theater
1986 "Paper and Dancing," joint performance with Tandy Beal, Kyoto American Center; Tokyo Seed Hall
"The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light," Palace of Fine Art, San Francisco; University of California, Santa Cruz; Toga Studio, Kyoto; Tokushima; Sendai
1988 "Cosmo," joint performance with Junko Arase, Sendai City Hall
1990 Production and stage art for the modern Noh performance "Dōjōji: A Forbidden Journey"; four Scandinavian cities
1992 Production and stage art for the performance "Sogne," Kyoto Prefecture Theater
1994 "Sonezaki Shinjū," Chikamatsu Experimental Theater, Amagasaki
1998 Festival 98, Illinois Dance Company, Krannert Center for performing Arts, Champaign, Ill.
1999 "New Art New World" Festival, Skylight Stage, Chicago
2000 Utah Dance Company, Marriott Theater, Salt Lake City
"Sakura Gensō," Lyric Hall, Nagaoka
2008 Stage for Noh performance, Krannert Center for Performing Arts, Champaign, Ill.
2009 "Washi Tales," New York Theater Workshop
2011 "Washi Tales," world premiere, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Champaign, Ill.; Bing Theatre, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
2016 "Washi Tales," Asia Society, New York
2017 "Washi Tales," Stockton University Gallery, Galloway, N.J
1982-present President, Shion Co. Ltd. and Shion International
1988-2013 Director, Japan Paper Academy
2004-2006 Member, Management Council, Kyoto Institute of Technology
2005-2016 Professor, Kyoto Institute of Technology
2008 Adjunct Professor, Illinois University, Champaign, Ill.
2009-2010 Special Advisor, Agency of Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan