We got this excellent submission from the Parks Department, so we’re publishing it in honor of the return of the Garden’s Greenmarket on June 13. ~AR
The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation is pleased to host A Window on Nature: Art of Asuka Hishiki, an exhibition of over 35 watercolors illustrating a poetic and detailed observation of plants and insects. Her portraits of vegetables from New York City’s celebrated Greenmarkets and her imaginative plant-like insects from her Association of Type B metamorphosis Entomologists (ATBE) series are on view April 26 through June 6, 2012.
Influenced by a childhood reference book of insects, plants and animals, as well as her fascination with the work of 18th century naturalist and scientific illustrator Maria Sibylla Merian, Hishiki’s paintings are painstakingly detailed and exacting—individual hairs are visible on her renderings of life-sized ants. Offering a visually nourishing treat, Hishiki faithfully captures crisp, ripe colors of locally grown vegetables, as well as the sensuous formations of heirloom tomatoes, which resemble Edward Weston’s peppers. In her fanciful ABTE series, plants grow butterflies instead of flowers and brilliantly patterned caterpillars sprout mushrooms on their backs. Though a stickler for details, she also forms personal relationships with her subjects, naming each of her tomatoes based on their shape (Mr. Big Nose and Yakuza Brothers) and creating intricate histories for her whimsical insects.
Photography and video have since become the norm in nature documentation—recording species faster and more accurately than painters. However, Hishiki wonders if they record her subjects as she sees them. Cameras have one fixed, instantaneous vision, yet she notes that people need time to see an object. Painters have multiple viewpoints and time to study and reflect on their subjects, selectively capturing details. Hishiki displays her paintings on stark white paper that suggest the form of collection boxes with the hope that others will see as much beauty and invest the time in her specimens as she does.
The Arsenal Gallery is dedicated to examining themes of nature, urban space, wildlife, New York City parks, and park history. It is located on the third floor of the NYC Parks & Recreation headquarters, in Central Park, on Fifth Avenue at 64th Street. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for holidays. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/parks/art or call 212-360-8163.