Inspired by the ancient and traditional Japanese art of flower arrangement—Ikebana—Montreal-based artist and photographer Raku Inoue creates colorful portraits of insects and other animals using natural art materials only - flowers, twigs, leaves, and stems from his garden. Each and every one of these beautiful animals is unique as he chooses his materials according to the seasons and what nature offers during them. Scroll down with Bored Panda’s interview with the artist!
“It all started when one day, it was very windy and the petals of a rose bush in my backyard fell to the ground. I picked those up and made my first unique design: a rose petal beetle. I found the process to be so calming and therapeutic that I made this a creative exercise that I would do in the morning while drinking coffee. With time, these animal portraits became my artistic identity,” the artist told Bored Panda about how everything started.
His ongoing art series "Natura Insects" features a menagerie of lifelike butterflies, beetles, spiders, and even owls that have been crafted from bright and beautiful flower arrangements. After Inoue carefully arranges them into floral sculptures, he then photographs them against a white background for a result that looks like display cases seen in natural history museums. When asked how long it takes to make one such realistic artwork, the artist says: “It can take 20 minutes, or it can take a few weeks. That depends on the complexity of the sculpture. For more 3D projects, I need to construct a foam core as a base structure. This takes time.”
While studying the art of ikebana, the artist learned to respect nature and utilize seasonal materials. For his works, he only uses materials which are most abundant rather than picking what looks most attractive. For example, after a rain, he would collect petals that had fallen to the ground rather than searching for flowers still connected to the tree or stem. “I love nature, so working with materials that represent that is pleasant and meaningful. It’s all about respecting the materials and their ephemerality. I quickly learned that nothing is forever, especially in nature.”
The artist, who grew up in Japan, used to spend each summer together with his grandmother who lived in the countryside near Hiroshima. She would leave the door open to their house and welcome in dragonflies. She believed that they represented the presence of her late husband. Therefore, insects have always had a special meaning to Inoue.
“My philosophy would be to take it easy and live. Being me, I tend to become obsessed at times with work and creating, but just living life is as important as learning artistic techniques,” Inoue explains his philosophy as an artist. “Don't be afraid to try new things and venture out of the comfortable zone. Only then will you find that it is possible to surpass yourself. Once this process becomes natural, you will find that evolution is constant and makes creating much more exciting!”
If you would like to see more works from this artist, you can check his previous post on Bored Panda.