Artist's Blossoming Animal Forms Depict Triumph of Life Over Death

Video screen capture. ブレイク前夜 via Youtube

Flowers can represent a lot of things: beauty, fragrance and how quickly and continuously living things can bloom, wither and die. For Tokyo-based sculptor Taiichiro Yoshida, they are a way to cover the bare bones of animals long dead in these delicate yet robust sculptures made of metal, giving them another life, while also alluding to the continuation of life after death.

Yoshida, who has been trained to do decorative metalwork the traditional Japanese way, uses materials like copper and silver to create realistic-looking flower and plant forms -- some of which include actual skulls and skeletons of animals, such as small mammals or birds. A recurring theme is revealing only a bit of bone here or there, while the rest of the sculpture is covered in delicately coloured metal flowers, to give the impression that the animal has just passed on, and the forces of nature are reclaiming the body for renewal and regeneration.

According to Hi-Fructose, each sculpture starts as a plasticine form, which is then covered in metal elements, created hand-forging tools like an otafuku Hammer for flattening the hot metal ingots into the desired forms.

These metals are often coloured to bring life to the piece. But most intriguing is how the sculptures get their colours: this is achieved not by artificial means, but by super-cooling the hot metal at precise stages, giving the typical colours such as white, pink, pinkish brown, and a copper-toned patina.

It's true that Yoshida's work looks like a metal-based version of ikebana, or the Japanese art of flower arrangement, which is rooted in Buddhist and Shinto practices of placing flowers at an altar to honour the Buddha, or the spirits of nature and the ancestors. It's believed that by arranging the flowers, they are brought to life; here, the flowers bring the dead matter back to life, metaphorically and visually. For more, visit Taiichiro Yoshida.