Makoto Azuma is a radical artist. His unique approach to creating the most visually stunning contexts for his meticulously elaborated ikebana, Bonsai and Flower sculptures surprises even the most cynical of audiences. His work is about making tangible the most ephemeral of all art forms, the Japanese flower arrangement.
Educated in traditional Japanese flower arranging techniques, he has subverted the whole process by adding technology, photography, video and insane logistics in order to turn the ancient decorative practice into a contemporary art form.
From his flower laboratory in Tokyo, Makoto Azuma imagines how his art can reach the farthest points in Earth, and sometimes even beyond. He has submerged a bonsai in the depths of the ocean, sent an ikebana into outer space attached to stratospheric helium balloons, and frozen huge blocks of ice that melted in a catwalk. He has also created a parade of flower bicycles that stopped the city of Sao Paulo, during one month, creating confusion in one of the world’s most intense cities.
His practice and media are strikingly diverse, ranging from ephemeral sculptures, acrylic objects, photography, public intervention, video, performance, fashion, temporary architecture and many ingenious initiatives on Social Media. He has also created a range of social projects activated by Art and Flowers in Indonesia, Japan and Brazil.
For BIENALSUR, Azuma took the idea of reaching out to the salt pans in Jujuy, Argentina, to create a Sunflower sculpture. He wandered through the stunning arid expanses of the Salar desert landscape, only to bury the sculpture in an underground bed of salt. Then he waited for a year to see the sculpture turn into a salt flower (flor de sal). A metaphor of the eternal-ephemeral, life and death, endurance and fragility.
Azuma is searching for a context where flowers can change our perception of place and landscape but more importantly how they can change the interaction between people. In this way he is recovering the true use of flowers in ancient society, taking it to a dimension where people become sensitized to the fast paced world in which we live.
Makoto Azuma is a master of cultural exchange, using the universal language of flowers to create works of art that transcend cultural barriers and embrace our humanity. We are destined to wither and die, for death follows life, and his works reminds us of our transient nature.
Artist: Makoto Azuma (JPN)