Botaniphoria: A Cabinet of Botanical Curiosities by Asuka Hishiki / ISBN 9781915048103 / 96-page paperback, 7.8 x 7.8 inches, published in 2023 by Two Rivers Press
Thanks go to Robin Sloan for highlighting this book in his newsletter (it took me from June to September to manage to get it in stock).
Take a fresh look at the world through the lens of a self-confessed nature-obsessed artist. Asuka Hishiki possesses not only a sense of profound awe and wonder at the intricacies of the natural world, but also the talent to communicate it through her paintings. Recalling the Wunderkammer (literally, ‘wonder rooms’) of 16th and 17th century European collectors, Asuka Hishiki’s Botaniphoria encompasses subjects as diverse as rotting vegetables, endangered species, mundane weeds and backyard insects – all treasures to her and transformed into objects of intense and fragile beauty through her skill with watercolour. Her work is held in prestigious collections such as The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens, California, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Pennsylvania.
One of the first people to appreciate her work said about it, ‘your work is not to hang upon a wall in a bright living room, but to put in a drawer in the study. Then, alone in the middle of the night, to take out and ponder upon.’ In the best traditions of Wunderkammer, this book is an artfully arranged collection intended to be pondered upon. From the interactions of the objects within the paintings, to the quirky choice of subjects and the realism with which they are portrayed, they will bear revisiting again and again. As Asuka admits, painting is her language. She is an extremely adept communicator in it.