Japanese Artist Azuma Makoto Will Make You Rethink Flowers
Artist and botanical sculptor Azuma Makoto doesn’t care if flowers die—he lights them on fire, drags them underwater, drops them out of airplanes, and launches them into space.
This is not to say that he has anything but utmost respect for his materials. The 43-year old pushes plants to the extreme—lighting them on fire, dragging them deep underwater, dropping them out of airplanes, and launching them into space—as a way of highlighting not only their beauty and grace but also their strength and resilience. With large swaths of the Amazon rainforest routinely on fire (home to an estimated 80,000 plant species) and the oceans steadily toxifying, that resilience is in fact already being tested.
Unlike the centuries-old Japanese tradition of ikebana, which prizes precision and negative space, Makoto’s floral arrangements are maximalist, sometimes literally explosive. In his Flower Man series, for example, towering arrangements fill a room; in a series of photographs, we watch people burst out from inside them. Makoto travels the world installing such joyful sculptures in public spaces and galleries, and his arrangements have unsurprisingly caught the eye of the fashion world.