Japanese artist Nahoko Kojima’s life-size swimming polar bear Byaku (2013), is a breathtaking example of the power of the paper cut. Suspended from the ceiling by invisible string and installed above a white platform, the delicate and intricate form creates an ephemeral effect that swallows the viewer in celestial ecstasy. Aerial photographs of the fire red-haired artist lying below her sculpture emphasize the elaborate design that produces a diffused shadow encircling the artist below. A lacy white dress clings to Kojima’s body, creating a juxtaposition that further lifts the artwork and emphasizes the lissome nature of the handcrafted work, which unlike the static Kojima gazing above, moves in convincing undulations developed through an acute understanding of light and shadows.
A video produced by Kojima’s design and marketing solutions group, Solo Kojima, shows Byaku from a variety of angles, giving the viewer at home an opportunity to experience the astonishing variety of textures and shapes Kojima brilliantly cut out of a single piece of 3 x 3 meter washi paper, a process which took seven months. Byaku, which translates from Japanese to ‘white,’ is currently on a European tour, and continues to inspire awe in its viewers.