Makoto Azuma’s Floral Masterpieces

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Striking botanical sculptures that place flowers and bonsai trees in unusual settings.

Born in 1976, Makoto Azuma is a well-known Japanese floral artist and a pioneer of botanical sculpture, a genre anchored in the ancient ikebana tradition. Even though he originally planned to pursue music, he became interested in floral arrangements while working at the renowned Ota Market, in Japan. Later, he opened the flower shop Jardins des Fleurs with botanical photographer Shiinoki Shunsuke. Together, they also launched the experimental art collective Azuma Makoto Flower Laboratory (AMKK) in Milan, Belgium, and Shanghai. Through AMKK, the artist develops projects that push the boundaries of nature and art with botanical compositions placed in unusual settings.

While visually arresting and captivating, Makoto Azuma’s work aims to open a dialogue about nature and existential concepts. Perhaps his best-known work, “Exobiotanica” features otherworldly photos of a bonsai tree and flowers in space; more specifically, 1000,000 feet into the stratosphere. Carefully framed, the plants appear in between the cloudy surface of Earth and the deep blue of outer space. The “Sephirothic Flower: Diving into the Unknown” series placed bouquets of flowers and a bonsai tree into the darkness of the ocean floor.

In the “Frozen Flowers” series, the artist encased intricate floral arrangements in ice; then, he placed them in snow and ice-covered landscapes. The “Flower and Man” series sees people interacting with flowers during wildly different activities: skydiving, scuba diving, wrestling, or beekeeping. For “Shouting Flowers”, the artist created a time-lapse video of the life cycle of flowers. Starting with flowers that open in bloom, the video then shows them fading and eventually decaying. Photographs© AMKK.

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