Posts tagged
with plants


Poetic Drawings by Yuria Okamura Meditate on the Sacredness of Plants

May 19, 2023

Grace Ebert

A symmetric geometric and botanical drawing in blues, yellows, and reds

All images © Yuria Okamura, shared with permission

Melbourne-based artist Yuria Okamura intertwines sacred geometries with medicinal botanicals in her delicate drawings and wall works. Evoking animism and the Buddhist and Shinto beliefs she encountered during her childhood in Japan, Okamura’s renderings in pen and acrylic create sites for meditation and contemplation with symmetries, muted color palettes, and subdued, calming auras.

Often accompanying the smaller works on paper are large-scale patterns the artist draws on the walls surrounding the pieces to create immersive architectural installations. This pairing establishes “a temple-like space for enshrining nature,” she says, and together, the works emulate the quiet, reflective qualities of places of worship.

Some of Okamura’s works shown here are on view through August 20 as part of Melbourne Now at NGV Australia. Find more of her exquisite renderings on her site and Instagram.


A symmetric geometric and botanical drawing in blues, yellows, and reds

Three symmetric geometric and botanical drawings in blues, yellows, and reds on a gallery wall surrounded by additional geometries

A symmetric geometric and botanical drawing in blues, yellows, and reds

Two symmetric geometric and botanical drawings on a wash of blue

A symmetric geometric and botanical drawing on a wash of blue on a gallery wall with geometric shapes surrounding it

A symmetric geometric and botanical drawing in blues, yellows, and reds

Two symmetric geometric and botanical drawings on a wash of blue

A symmetric geometric and botanical drawing in blues, yellows, and reds

A symmetric geometric and botanical drawing in blues, yellows, and reds





Lavish Scenes Glorify the Female Figure in Olivia De Bona’s Straw Marquetry

May 15, 2023

Grace Ebert

A straw marquetry work of a woman surrounded by plants wearing a large hat

“L’heure Rouge.” All images © Olivia De Bona, shared with permission

Through glimpses of elegant interiors lush with plants, Paris-based artist Olivia De Bona celebrates the beauty and contours of the female body. Her straw marquetry—the process of applying thin layers of material (usually veneer) to a surface—adds natural texture, variegation, and historical relevance to such intimate and decadent scenes. Referencing Romanticism and the Vietnamese wood carving traditions of her ancestors, the works require “patience, and an incalculable number of hours, that allows me to dive out of time and brings me back to something very concrete, real, far from the famous, facing myself and in tribute to all the women artisans to the forgotten work,” the artist says.

On view now at BEERS London, De Bona’s latest body of work reckons with voyeurism, implicating the viewer from the outset. Sensuous and heavily stylized, the pieces largely depict nude women unaware and in a moment of passing, shown through elements like “a hidden passage, a doorway, a transition from one state to another where we can peek at what is hidden and what is revealed,” the artist shares. The exhibition is titled Le Panache, a term that today indicates flamboyant confidence and that historically denotes an elaborate headdress, the latter of which is recalled in the fiery red feathers of “La Poule.”

De Bona is drawn to this sense of “reckless courage” that “transform(s) all women into goddesses. I put my loving and tender look for all her bodies, all her forms,” she says. Many of these recent works were inspired by the artist’s friend, a professional dancer who joined her in the studio to perform. “This has very little to do with voyeurism and is really about tenderness,” De Bona shares. “A connection between persons, between women, allowing space for discussion and creativity.  There was a very raw connection between her movements in my space and my craftsmanship in relation to my work.” Each interior is lavish and ripe with plants, stone tiles, animals, and soft places to rest. Obscured by a half-opened door or fern front, these domestic spaces are fertile, offering room for contemplation, solitude, and imagination.

Several works shown here are included in Le Panache, which is on view through June 10. For more of De Bona’s marquetry, murals, and other projects, visit Instagram, and find prints in her shop.


A straw marquetry work of a nude woman surrounded by plants with a tiger nearby

“Sieste crapulence 5pm” (2022), straw marquetry, acrylic, and pigmented clay on wood, 61 x 50 centimeters

A straw marquetry work of a nude woman, her head covered by plants

“Le Bouquet” (2023), acrylic, pigmented clay, and straw marquetry on wood, 60 x 42 centimeters

A straw marquetry work of a woman with a large feathered headdress surrounded by roosters

“La Poule” (2023), acrylic and straw marquetry on wood, 73 x 60 centimeters

Detail of a straw and clay flower

Detail of “Le Bouquet” (2023), acrylic, pigmented clay, and straw marquetry on wood, 60 x 42 centimeters

Two straw marquetry works of a nude woman surrounded by plants

Left: “Un Long Dimanche” (2022), acrylic and straw marquetry on wood, 68 x 56 centimeters. Right: “La Toilette” (2021), 50 x 100 centimeters

Detail of a straw mat with a woman's foot in the top right

Detail of “Un Long Dimanche” (2022), acrylic and straw marquetry on wood, 68 x 56 centimeters

A straw marquetry work of a woman surrounded by plants and bears

A straw marquetry work of a nude woman surrounded by plants at the edge of a bathtub

“Le Boudoir”




Gem-Encrusted Creatures Encounter Otherworldly Ecologies in Jon Ching’s Vibrant Oil Paintings

May 15, 2023

Kate Mothes

An oil painting of a flamingo wading through some cacti.

“Arroyo.” All images © Jon Ching, shared with permission

A seahorse nestles in amongst cherry blossoms, and a cone of violet flowers morph from a glistening amethyst in Jon Ching’s uncanny ecologies. In jewel-toned oil paintings, the Los Angeles-based artist’s hybrid creatures sport regal headdresses or merge their bodies with gems and crystals. He often focuses on a central character in a contradictory environment, such as an owl among gourds, a flamingo wading between cacti in a wetland, or a bird hatching from a Fabergé egg.

Recently, Ching started creating what he describes as “quieter” compositions, panning out from central portraits to unveil the enigmatic wonder of nature as a whole. Landscapes and the details of the animals’ surroundings take precedence and sometimes border on optical illusions, like the luna moths tucked in with ginkgo leaves in “Nagamorphose” or a dewy spider web made of diamonds in “Arachnitite.” Increasingly highlighting species that are misunderstood or get a bad rap, his new paintings “are less about the animal itself and more about the beauty that exists in the world,” he says in a recent article in American Art Collector, sharing that he wants to “push back against our cultural biases about certain animals.”

Many of these pieces are part of Ching’s solo exhibition Terra Brio at Haven Gallery on Long Island, which continues through June 4. He also just released a print edition of “In Plain Sight,” which you can find in his shop. Discover more of his work on his website, and follow him on Instagram for updates and insights into his process.


An oil painting of a chameleon with an amethyst.

“In Plain Sight”

An oil painting of a primate eating rocks with crystals growing from its head.


An oil painting of a pink seahorse among cherry blossoms.


An oil painting of an owl with a flower crown among some plants.

“Makali’i Rising”

An oil painting of a hummingbird among some gingko leaves and moths.


An oil painting of a bird hatching from a Fabergé egg in a rose bush.


An oil painting of a spider made from gems, catching a fly in a web of diamonds.


An oil painting of a hummingbird perched on a thorny plant.





Vivid Foliage Suspends Xiao Wang’s Portraits in Uncanny Tension

May 2, 2023

Grace Ebert

A woman peers through violet tinged gingko leaves

“Portrait, October” (2022), oil on canvas, 41 x 54 inches. All images © Xiao Wang, shared with permission

Gingko leaves laced with violet, eucalyptus sprigs in blue, and ferns glowing with bright orange veil Xiao Wang’s portraits with a sense of subtle unreality. As if illuminated by fluorescent light, the oil paintings depict quiet, introspective, and intimate moments between the artist and subjects, who rest among lush plant life.

In a note to Colossal, Wang shares that he continually strives for both contrast and balance. He has relationships with each person he paints, whether it be friends, his partner, or himself, and their real-life bonds emerge through the unearthly palettes. “I want to create an uncanny feeling through distorting natural colors and creating sharp contrast,” he shares. “That’s why there are so many dark tones against light tones, violet and red against green and blue.”

The use of vivid color also energizes the works and adds to the underlying unease and anxiety of the otherwise languid subjects, who appear suspended in daydreams and transitory states. “I think I’m trying to walk between realism and expressionism, meaning that my work is deeply based on naturalistic observations and oftentimes maximalist technique, but also heightened by expressive colors and surreal settings,” he says.

Wang, who was born in China and is currently based in New York, has a solo show slated for July at PM/AM in London, and you can find more of his work and glimpses into his studio on Instagram.


One person rests on a table while another peers into a mug against a backdrop of cacti

“Hangover” (2021), oil on canvas, 44 x 40 inches

A woman rests her head on her arms on a table with a plum tree above

“Spaced in, Space out #2” (2023), oil on canvas, 40 x 32 inches

A cat walks atop a table with a lush bouquet, a man sitting at the right edge

“Monkey Mind” (2022), oil on canvas, 58 x 44 inches

two people rest their heads on a tabletop with a taper candle burning at the center

“Passing Hours” (2022), oil on canvas, 60 x 48 inches

Two people embrace in front a tree covered with violet tinged ivy

“Sound of Cicadas” (2022), oil on canvas, 60 x 80 inches

A man sleeps on a tabletop with orange foliage in the backdrop

“Slumber-Dusk” (2020), oil on canvas, 44 x 58 inches



Photography Science

Fluorescent Photographs by Tom Leighton Highlight the Remarkable Complexities of Plants After Dark

April 29, 2023

Kate Mothes

All images © Tom Leighton, shared with permission

Plants are incredible stores of energy,” says photographer Tom Leighton, whose fluorescent-tinged images of foliage highlight the incredible night life of plants in his ongoing Variegation series. He explores the detailed colors and textures of leaves and stems, accentuating an important counterpart to the complex daytime process of photosynthesis, which creates chemical energy and oxygen from sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. “After the sun fades, the process of photosynthesis stops and respiration begins,” he says. “Plants begin to burn their stored sugars and breathe back in some of the precious oxygen they have created.”

Leighton primarily focuses on species found around his native Cornwall—often in his own garden—and captures contrasting venation patterns, serrated edges, and multiple colors. He digitally removes the green tones we associate with vegetation to reveal glowing violet, pink, and blue hues. “It is very experimental… There are limitless options and techniques that I combine to get to each finished image,” he says, sharing that a minor color choice or a small crop can transform the outcome.

Explore more of Leighton’s work on Behance, his website, and Instagram.


Colorful leaves

A tropical plant

Serrated edges of leaves.

A colorful leaf.

Thin purple foliage.





From Naturally Dyed Paper, Kanako Abe Cuts Exquisite Works Connecting Nature and the Human Touch

April 13, 2023

Grace Ebert

On a black backdrop, a photo of a gold paper cutting of a hand with a start at the center of the palm surrounded by delicate botanical filigree

All images © Kanako Abe

After several years of working primarily with white paper, Kanako Abe has shifted to color. The Seattle-based artist is known for her exquisite Kirie works—a traditional Japanese art form that translates to cut picture—and she’s recently begun to incorporate rich blue and gold sheets tinted with rust, indigo, and various materials foraged from forests. “When I dye the paper, I don’t know how the hue, color, or texture would turn out, but I just go with the flow, trust the process, and embrace the imperfection,” she shares.

This sentiment contrasts the impeccable precision of her compositions, which often feature silhouettes, hands, animals, or household objects encircled by delicate botanical filigree. The idea to pair organic dyes with meticulous cuts was born in the early days of the pandemic, when “in such state of the world, the attitude of trying to have control over something felt very stressful, so I started feeling out of alignment with my art making method,” Abe says. “This new method, which I’m still experimenting and exploring, allows me to meditate on a thought that the world around us is changeable.” The resulting works are as intricate as her earlier pieces, although they place greater emphasis on the limits and possibilities of human touch.

Head to Instagram for more of Abe’s papercuts and to peek into her process.


A photo on a white backdrop of a blue paper cut of a shilhouette with flowers and plants growing from the top of the head

Two photos on white backdrops, one of a gold paper cut of a hand holding flowers surrounded by blooms, and the other a detail of that same work

A photo on a black backdrop of a gold paper cut of scissors encircled by flowers

Two photos of blue paper cuts on white backdrops, one of a pot with a female figure and flowers growing from the opening, another of two hands clasped around a bouquet of flowers

A photo of a gold paper cut on a white backdrop of a deer encircled by flowers

A photo of a gold paper cut on a black backdrop of a butterfly landing on a hand with a backdrop of mesh