On April 3, it was announced that Hiroshi Senju has been selected as a recipient of this year’s Isamu Noguchi Award, which will be presented on May 16 at the annual benefit of New York’s Noguchi Museum. The museum recognizes designers, architects and artists who share the museum founder’s ideals, including innovation and exchange between the East and West. Founded in 1985 by Isamu Noguchi, a leading sculptor and designer, the museum became the first museum in America to be established and designed by a living artist showing their own work.
Japanese-born Senju is known as one of the few contemporary masters of a historical painting style called nihonga, a thousand-year-old practice that uses traditional materials and techniques. Senju is renowned for his monumental waterfalls and cliffs that are created with pure, natural pigment—made from minerals, ground shells, stones and coral suspended in animal-hide glue—poured on mulberry paper. The minimalist pouring method emulates rushing water, with waterfalls seen as a timeless, borderless natural occurrence that transcends cultural boundaries and bridges aesthetics of East and West.
In 1995, Senju became the first Asian artist to receive an Honorable Mention Award at the Venice Biennale; in 2015, he presented at the “Frontiers Reimagined: Art that Connects Us” collateral event of the Biennale. He has exhibited worldwide, mounting shows in major international institutions, including “Beauty Project” (1996) at the London Museum of Contemporary Art and “The New Way of Tea” (2002) at the Japan Society in New York.
In 2004, Senju was appointed as art director for renovations at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport Terminal, where he erected a large painting Water Shrine (2010) measuring 2.5 meters in height and 17.9 meters in width. His work is also publicly displayed at the Benesse Art Site of Naoshima Island, as well as 77 murals housed at Jukoin, a sub-temple in Kyoto. Senju’s work is included in the collections of Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art; the Brooklyn Museum in New York and the Museum of Modern Art, Toyama, as well as others. The Hiroshi Senju Museum also opened in 2011 in Karuizawa, Japan.
Alongside Senju, an acclaimed London-based architectural designer, John Pawson, will also be presented with the 2017 award. Past winners include Tadao Ando and Elyn Zimmerman in 2016, Jasper Morrison and Yoshio Taniguchi in 2015, and Lord Norman Foster and Hiroshi Sugimoto in 2014.