When people see Hiroki Saito‘s astounding artwork, they have to ask: is it a photograph or a painting? The answer is neither. In actuality, Saito practices a meticulous variation of the traditional Japanese art of Kiri-e or Kirigami (meaning cut picture). This age-old craft requires the artist to carefully cut pieces of washi paper—a delicate paper that derives from mulberry plant fibers—using a sharp blade. Saito has put his own spin on this tradition by creating staggeringly, elaborate designs that mimic the style of stained glass windows.
To do this, the artist starts with a large piece of black paper, which he meticulously cuts into fine lines and shapes. This sets up a “frame” for the colored pieces of paper that are added later. It is this striking contrast, in addition to the highly detailed quality of his compositions, that makes Saito's artwork so immediately arresting to the eye. Moreover, these complex designs are cut in an unusually large format, often A4 or A3, which takes the artist up to four months to complete. When they are finished, however, viewers can take their time pouring over the amazing handiwork.
Scroll down to see more paper art by Saito, and then follow the artist on Twitter to keep up to date with his latest creations.
Japanese artist Hiroku Saito creates incredible paper art called Kiri-e or Kirigami.
He cuts incredibly fine lines and shapes from a piece of black paper.
Then, he adds this black “frame” on top of colorful backgrounds.
Watch how one of his meticulous cut pieces is completely transformed when held up to the light.
— 切り絵作家斉藤洋樹 (@kiriehiro) October 29, 2020