Itô Handoku

(Japan 1948 – )


Not on display
Further information

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 of origin
Japan: Heisei period 1989–
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
Accession number