Paper is one of those things we don't think about much: we use it, reuse it, and recycle it. We essentially take it for granted. Yet, it can be quite a delicate thing to work with, and quite a versatile medium for intricate art, as these incredible paper-cut art pieces by Japanese artist Kiri Ken (ie. "cutting sword") show.
Adapting themes from nature, Kiri Ken slices fragile sheets of paper into detailed shapes, lines and swirls, making it look like inked drawings. Jellyfish, nautilus, flowers merge and unify with human forms in a sinuous combination of wild and domesticated.
Some of Kiri Ken's pieces are cut in a way to give an amazing layered effect on what is essentially a thin sheet of paper -- very impressive.
Some of Kiri Ken's works start small, such as this one below, but are full of tiny details that bring it to life when completed.
These are truly impressive artworks -- the tiny cuts must be patiently carried out, one by one, with an extremely sharp blade, over many hours. Any one mistake will be irreversible. Yet, in the end, there's a precious lesson here in the midst of all this imaginative imagery: these paper works will eventually fade and decay, pointing to the mortality and fragility of life in all its short-lived wonder. You can see more of Kiri Ken's work on his Twitter.