Artist Louise Jones (previously), known professionally as Ouizi, focuses on flowers in her multi-faceted practice. Whether creating towering outdoor murals, carving linoleum prints, completing indoor mural commissions, or painting on more traditional canvases, Jones creates groupings of real and imagined blossoms. In addition to painting in her home base of Detroit, where she has completed over 40 murals, Jones travels widely to execute work, including in Los Angeles (her hometown), Shanghai, New Zealand, and New York.
The artist’s largest mural to date, titled Wildflowers for Buffalo, was recently completed in Buffalo, New York as part of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s Public Art Initiative. The enormous work is the largest mural in Western New York. For this commission and other site-specific projects, Jones researched and incorporated native flora in her designs. She works in a distinctive aesthetic that merges botanical realism with a stylized, sinuous technique that draws from her Chinese heritage.
In an interview with Shinola, Jones explained, “Flowers are a vehicle for me to explore color and shapes. They remind me so much of my own body — they’re very feminine. I consider myself to be feminine, but haven’t always felt that way. As I get older, I’ve learned to embrace my femininity, and I find myself increasingly drawn to flowers with age.”
Jones studied drawing and printmaking at UC Santa Cruz. You can see more of her work on Instagram, and watch a behind-the-scenes video and interview of Jones’ Buffalo mural below.
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Kengo Takahashi uses ultra-thin aluminum casting to get the precise shape of real flowers for his series titled Flower Funeral. The detailed works combine hundreds of delicate metal flowers that form the shape of skulls, and each have a thickness of just .01 mm. The works also contain life-size aluminum flowers like chrysanthemums across their forehead and branched horns, and sculptural water droplets that rest gently on several of their petals. You can see more of the Japanese artist’s sculptures on his website and Instagram.
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In designer Olga Prinku’s floral wreaths, hundreds of dried plants and flowers are sewn into the shape of large capital letters. Flower heads spring out of the tulle as if magically sprouting from planted seeds Prinku had scattered weeks before. Although a graphic designer by trade, her project has sparked a love affair with weaving and craft, and encouraged her to experiment with several different mediums.
“This particular technique of weaving flowers on tulle actually came to me in a dream,” Prinku tells Colossal. At first she began placing dried flowers on a sieve, which resembled the net structure of tulle. Once she began using the new medium, she looked to her garden for fresh flowers. She initially used fresh flowers for her works, but the natural objects began to shrink as they dried, which left gaps in her designs.
“Now I use dry flowers,” she explains. “Some I buy readily dried, and some I pick from fresh and dry myself using silica gel. I also collect seed pods at the end of the season, which I use as they are.” Prinku alters what flowers and plants she uses depending on the season. “I’m still learning a lot through experimenting about what flowers are the best – I’m basically looking for ones that are good at holding their color when dry and that have thin stems that I can use on the tulle.”
Prinku’s artistic process has fostered her appreciation of beauty and intricate details that exist in nature. “I’ve become much more observant about the plants that are growing all around where I live, and that fuels my creativity too,” she says. To learn more about Prinku’s work visit her website and her Instagram.
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Italian graffiti artist Eron (previously) creates poignant spray painted interventions which speak to humanitarian and social issues. Recently he created a stunning piece titled Tower to the People in Santarcangelo, Italy which converted a simple brick tower into a monumental painting celebrating the power of non-violence. The work features a raised fist that is constructed from a mass of lush roses painted in a classical chiaroscuro technique. The contrast between the fragility of the flowers and the power of the symbol they create speaks to the combined strength of individuals when united for a common cause.
Similar to his previous creations, the artist used spray paint to create an illusion of depth. The work appears almost sculptural, as if the fist was erected with the tower itself, rather than added on as a painted detail. Columns flank either side of the fist, each with hearts near the top and bottom corners. A press release about Tower to the People explains that the work is a tribute to “the strength of gentleness, the power of non-violence, the victory of kindness, the triumph of love over hate, the intensity of poetry, the perfection of harmony, and the desire for freedom and peace among the people all over the world.”
In 2015 Eron was included in the landmark exhibition Bridges Of Graffiti during 2015 Venice Biennale, and earlier this year he painted one of his largest street art interventions to date in Milan. In addition to the public works, Eron has also been creating smaller pieces that revive found objects through his application of ghostly imagery. At the same time, the artist is producing studio works on canvas which cleverly mix realistic and surreal imagery, creating captivating images that strongly rely on both light and shadow effects. You see more of his public and studio-based works on his website and Instagram.
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Italian glass artist Lilla Tabasso captures the vitality of flowers in her delicate and precise botanical sculptures. Though a first thought would be to celebrate that Tabasso’s glass creations have the decorative advantage of never wilting, the artist depicts the full life cycle of blossoms and includes fading flowers alongside fresh ones. She often includes the word “Vanitas” in the titles of her sculptures that show decaying blossoms, a reference to the 17th-century Dutch still life painting genre that represents transience and death through symbolic objects. The artist crafts collapsed carnations with the same care that she renders seemingly perfect peony blossoms.
Tabasso’s scientifically accurate artwork is rooted in her background as a biologist. (You might also be interested in the scientific glasswork of 19-century father-son duo the Blaschkas.) In addition to her vase-based pieces, Tabasso also crafts jewelry and small installations, and has created work for Design Miami Basel and Vogue Italia. She is represented by Caterina Tognon gallery in Venice, Italy. You can see more of her work on Instagram.
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Last weekend, at the farewell ceremony for the late actress Kirin Kiki, a large display of white flowers, designed to look like a wave, greeted the constant flow of family members, fans and celebrities that had come to pay their respects, and to say farewell to the 75-year old who had passed away from cancer on September 15. The white wave of flowers was comprised of roughly 1200 chrysanthemums, orchids, and gypsophila (an ornamental flower known as baby’s-breath in the West).
Relatively speaking, the wave of flowers at Kiki’s farewell ceremony was actually quite modest, in accordance with her wishes for a simple gathering. Attempt to search the Internet for 生花祭壇 (seikasaidan, which literally means fresh flower altar) and you’ll see any number of extravagant designs.
The wave motif itself is actually a common one in Japan, alongside the mountain. Both are typically used for men because they symbolize strength, but the rules of the old guard are starting to come down. Even chrysanthemums, which used to be the only accepted flower, are now joined by other white flowers, sometimes even colorful ones. But the alter of plentiful flowers is relatively recent, having originated in Kyoto just 30 years ago. This would make sense though because the technology and logistics involved in procuring large batches of fresh flowers is also relatively recent.
A lot of money is spent on funeral flowers in Japan. In fact, in 2006 Beauty Kadan became the first publicly traded Japanese company specializing in funeral flowers when it listed itself on the Mother’s section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Youkaen, a general flower company that entered the funeral flower business in 1972 now says that roughly 75% of their 50 billion yen in sales (roughly $44 mm USD) comes from their funeral flower segment.
Over the summer, Haruichi Mimura, the founder of funeral flower company Sunvillage, published a massive 480 page book detailing the intricacies of seikasaidan. It’s an extensive look at the details involved in created fresh flower alters: everything from history and tools to the types of flowers and designs. It’s available from Pie Books and also Amazon. (Syndicated from Spoon & Tamago)
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Floral artist Rebecca Louise Law (previously) travels widely to install her beloved cascading flower showers around the world. Most recently, the UK-based artist worked with residents of Toledo, Ohio to install Community, her largest work to date. The exhibition incorporates over 500,000 flowers, installed with substantial help from local volunteers. Community is comprised of dried flowers preserved from previous exhibitions as well as over 150,000 locally sourced native plants. The exhibit is on view at the Toledo Art Museum through January 13, 2019. You can see a time-lapse of the installation in the video below, and explore more of Law’s work on Instagram and Facebook.
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