Japanese Artist Cuts Black Paper Against Colored Lights to Look Like Gorgeous Landscapes

Paper Art by Hiroki Saito

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.

Paper Art by Hiroki Saito

He cuts incredibly fine lines and shapes from a piece of black paper.

Paper Art by Hiroki Saito

Then, he adds this black “frame” on top of colorful backgrounds.

Paper Art by Hiroki Saito Paper Art by Hiroki Saito Paper Art by Hiroki Saito Paper Art by Hiroki Saito Paper Art by Hiroki Saito

Watch how one of his meticulous cut pieces is completely transformed when held up to the light.

Hiroki Saito: Store | Pixiv | Twitter

All images via Hiroki Saito.

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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