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Washi Transformed

New Expressions in Japanese Paper

Meher McArthur

    ISBN: 978 1 78551 328 2

    Size: 229 x 229 mm

    Binding: Paperback

    Pages: 96

    In association with:

    Date published: May, 2021

    Date published: May, 2021

    UK £25 /US $35


  • Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper is the first book to explore washi as a medium for contemporary art.
  • The book reveals the contemporary possibilities—as well as the time-honoured essence—of a cultural tradition that has been deeply connected with art and life in Japan for more than a millennium.
  • Collectively, the photographs represent a new concept of washi as they have never been published together before. The book also features previously unpublished photographs of new works by Yuko Nishimura and Ayomi Yoshida.
  • The publication features photographs by Kyoko Ibe, one of the pioneers of contemporary washi, that makes the traditional new.


Historically, washi paper has been used as a base for Japanese calligraphy, painting, and printmaking as well as a material in architecture, religious ritual and clothing. In recent years, contemporary Japanese artists have turned this supple yet sturdy paper into a medium for expressing their artistic vision – layering, weaving, dyeing, shredding, folding, or cutting the paper to form abstract sculptures, lyrical folding screens, highly textured wall pieces, and dramatic installations.

This elegantly designed volume examines the extraordinary creations of these diverse contemporary artists from Japan, France, and the United States. The publication also demonstrates the resilience, versatility, and unique stature of this ancient artistic medium in the realm of international contemporary art.

Author information

Meher McArthur is an Asian art historian specialising in Japanese art, and is Art and Cultural Director for Japan House, Los Angeles. Her exhibitions include Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami and Above the Fold: New Expressions in Origami Art, both with IA&A and with accompanying publications. Her other books include Gods and Goblins: Japanese Folk Paintings from Otsu (1999), Reading Buddhist Art (2002), The Arts of Asia (2005), and the Getty Museum children’s book, An ABC of What Art Can Be (2010).