Kyoko Ibe

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.



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



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



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