This fifth volume in Encyclopedia of Flowers, the series that has been Azuma Makoto and Shiinoki Shunsuke’s consuming passion for more than a decade, was produced over a two-year period coinciding with the onset and devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the midst of their work, the floral-artist-and-photographer pair encountered a book about the origins of traditional ikebana that took up a group of monks in fifteenth-century Kyoto who, during a horrific famine, not only provided warm porridge and shelter but also arranged flowers to give people comfort and hope for the future. Moved by this episode and its resonances with the state of the world today, the authors, too, grew convinced that the one thing that they could—nay, should—do now was to go back to the roots of their art and offer flowers up for people through the pages of their book. Those offerings are presented in a format updated from previous volumes, with larger pages and almost complete lay-flat binding for an even more dynamic appreciative experience.
Floral artist Azuma Makoto held his first overseas solo show in New York and continues to exhibit highly experimental works primarily in Europe. In 2009 he established the Azuma Makoto Kaju Kenkyujo (AMKK) botanical lab, through which he presents projects around the world as part of his unique pursuit of plants and their beauty.
Shiinoki Shunsuke began botanical photography at the same time that Azuma embarked on his artistic career. In partnership with Azuma, he has dedicated himself to capturing the forms of life as they shift in aspect from moment to moment.