Iwata Ruri

Iwata Ruri (b. 1951)

“But glass remained basically foreign to the Japanese, something that had no roots in indigenous culture. So only artists prepared to take risks used it, artists with a decidedly Western orientation – in other words, those who were notably open-minded and progressive…One important pioneering glass artist began his career in the inter-war period: Toshichi Iwata. Thanks to his son Hisatoshi Iwata and his granddaughter Ruri Iwata, the Iwata dynasty has continued to play a major role in Japanese glass.”

Symposium “Quo vadis? Glass art in the age of globalization”  25/5/2006 – 27/5/2006 Helmut Ricke: Japan: A Dialogue between West and East

Iwata Ruri is the third generation of her family to work in glass. Her grandfather, Iwata Toshichi, is acknowledged as establishing glass as an art medium in Japan where there was no pre-existing tradition. Toshichi also taught internationally renowned glass artist Fujita Kyohei. Ruri’s father, Hisatoshi, consolidated the position of glass in the Japanese art world and with her mother, Itoko, they internationalized Japan’s glass art. Itoko was recognized as a leading international authority on glass and was a life member of the American Glass Society.

Toshichi adapted the new medium of glass to the aesthetic of the Japanese practice of tea. Hisatoshi continued this but experimented with sculpting glass, adding copper to create matte material, contrasting this with translucent glass in a variety of vessel shapes. Ruri’s work goes way beyond that of her illustrious father and grandfather and embraces the medium in its full plasticity– she weaves sensuous sculptures in glass. She creates a range of magnificent ‘wrapped’ glass vessels, weaving matte and translucent glass of different colours in astounding technical and aesthetic virtuosity. Ruri has extended her practice to large-scale monumental sculpture using glass with concrete and metal in major public installations.


1951   Born Tokyo
1985   Exhibited Neues-Glas-Aus-Japan Badisch State Museum Germany
1988   The 3rd International Glass Symposium Invited exhibitor, sculptural work
Tokyo Sarejo Park purchased sculptural work
1989   Awarded the 14th annual Yoshida Gojuhachi Prize, Art and Architecture
1990   Awarded Prize of Excellence Glass Art ’90 Narakawa Sculpture Park
1991   Notoshima Glass Museum, Ishikawa Prefecture, Purchased work
1991   Invited Exhibitor Espace Duchamp-Villon Centre-Saint-Sever, France
1992   Exhibited Avant-garde Crafts in JapanToday, Germany
1993   Exhibited In ‘pursuit of the steady hand’ Narakawa Prefectural Hall Gallery Exhibited Neues Glas in Japan Kunstmuseum, Dusseldorf, Germany
1994   Corning Incorporated USA Purchased sculptural work
1995   Uni.Charm Co Ltd Technical Centre Purchased Sculptural Work
Tradition and the Avant-Garde Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Japan Today Guest Lecturer Harbourfront Centre, Canada
1996   Iwata Ruri Shiseido Gallery Tokyo Ginza
1998   The Suntory Grand Prize Exhibition ‘98
Grand Prize Suntory Art Museum Akasaka Suntory Art Museum
1999   Osaka Zenkoji Purchase of Nirvana/anniversary Buddha
1999   Exhibited Japanese Craft Now Paris, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Fukuoka
2000   Toppan Hall Publishing Co Ltd Purchase of Sculptural work
2001   Exhibited Regarding Vessels: Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art
Exhibited Tsubaki-kai 2001 Ginza Tokyo
2002   Exhibited Tsubaki-kai 2002 Ginza, Tokyo
Shiseido Arthouse Purchased Sculptural Work
Exhibited Global Art Glass Triennale Borgholms-Slott-Sweden
2003   Tsubaki-kai 2003 Regarding Small Things Ginza, Tokyo
Exhibited Glass Without Inhibition Hokkaido Contemporary Art Museum,
2003   Ginza Mikimoto commissioned Christmas Tree Decoration
2004   Tsubaki-kai 2004 Ginza, Tokyo
2005   Tsubaki-kai 2005 Ginza, Tokyo
Shiseido Arthouse Purchased Sculptural Work
2006   ‘Proud’ minami-aoyama, installation art commissioned
2007   Tokyo ‘mid-town’ installation commission

Iwata Ruri
Lesley Kehoe