the art in contemporary floral photography from japan

Japanese photographer Takashi Tomo-oka is doing something new and different, and I’m completely in love.  Trained as a painter, Tomo-oka realized that the delicacy of floral still lifes was better suited to photography, which can instantly capture the brief moment before the flower begins to wilt.

These contemporary images of single flowers are so simple and elegant, yet that belies the work and preparation that goes into creating each amazing piece.  Tomo-oka actually sketches out the composition and then has everything ready so that from the moment he cuts the stem, he is ready to capture the image exactly as he wishes.  Not happy with the quality of mass produced photography paper available to artists, he then chooses handmade paper on which to print the image.  This gives a much more painterly effect with a softer edge to the flower and a deep rich color palette.  The images are then mounted on scrolls taking a traditional craft and making it contemporary.
Capturing imperfections and the impermanence of life is a tradition in Japanese art called wabi-sabi in which the decaying leaf or rotting berry become things to be celebrated.  This is shared with European old master paintings of vanitas showing the transience of life.
The results are tranquil floral photographs of nature that focus on a single bloom, removing all other distractions.  My favorites are illustrated here.  Because they are beautiful and soothing, I would hang them in very private spaces, whether a bedroom, bathroom or a comfortable sitting room where they can be contemplated and enjoyed in private.

richard rabel
richard rabel: interiors + art
interior design and art advising
new york city

image credits: Ippodo Gallery, Tokyo and New York