Azuma Makoto Places Delicate Flower Compositions Into Extreme Situations
“Floating bonsai trees in the stratosphere”, “pine trees suspended on snow and supported by a frame structure”, “botanical sculptures”, “fleet of flower bicycles”, “suspended palm trees in the middle of the desert”, “four-meter floral sculpture floating in the ocean”, “suspended bonsai trees in abandoned power plants”; these expressions have been repeated over and over again in reviews on Azuma Makoto’s works. Azuma Makoto is a flower artist and his obsession with flowers began when he started working in a flower shop. In 2002 he created his flower atelier called ‘Jardins des Fleurs’ in collaboration with photographer Shunsuke Shiinoki. To Makoto the flower incorporates and exceeds the normal definition of beauty, as he says: “Flowers are an entity which is already beautiful simply by blooming in a field. We humans remove them from the natural state by cutting them off. And then we bind those flowers together. It’s therefore necessary to transform it into something even more beautiful, so that the life of these flowers and plants will not be meaningless. By placing them in an extreme situation, such as outer space or a desert, I can give them a special beauty by showing them in a way that no one has ever seen them before. That form of expression is the only viable option for me.”
Azuma Makoto assembles expressive flowers in fascinating sculptures and gives them a different status, a different function in life that is to be felt rather than spoken. In this regard, Makoto has sent floral sculptures and bonsai trees to the stratosphere and documented their journey in an experiment called exobiotanica. He has suspended trees deep in the ocean, on the snow or in the desert and dried frozen flowers and fungi in acrylic casings, in representations of stilled beauty that is headed for destruction.
One example of this idea is his Block Flowers which he believes to be representing “the desire to stop time and forever lock in the beauty takes shape.” With his work, stumbling on a flower or plant installation in a bizarre and unexpected setting has become the ordinary. The beauty in flowers or plants is ephemeral; their mesmerising colours, amazing scents, delicate shapes last for not long. It is the desire of the artist to capture this beauty while it lasts, for it can vanish in a matter of days.
All images, courtesy of artist: Azuma Makoto