Nature with its intricate beauty and profound mystery has always fascinated us. However, depicting it is entirely a different story, even a fallen leaf…
Caravaggio once said, "It costs me as much effort to make a good painting of fruit or flowers as of figures." This was a sensational statement, made during the period of western art when he depicted a basket of fruit with the utmost care, as precisely as he depicted figures in the time of Counter-Reformation, which promoted Biblical themed works as sacred art called “Natura Vivente (= living nature)” while “fruit or flowers” were regarded as lower subjects called “Natura Morta (= inanimate nature)”. Thus he elevated ordinary, mundane subjects to the sacred, and vice versa, and revolutionised western art by setting a precedent for a new genre "still life".
I'm always amazed when I see the grand design of nature with its unique texture, colour, diversity and harmonious beauty. Particularly I love to portray "leaves" rather than splendorous "flowers". In the long history of traditional Japanese art, we have embraced the richness of meaning behind those lovable figures in nature, which indicates metaphorically the vanity of this world and fragility of life. It exactly corresponds to the idea of “memento mori (remember your mortality)”, which is seen in the Western ideology, art and culture, especially in the Baroque period when Caravaggio established his unique style as Roberto Longhi the Italian art historian defined as Luminism. For me, portraying leaves and flowers is the way to converse with those masters and the act of contemplation about dignity and fragility of life, mortality and immortality, and light and darkness.