The Japanese art of ‘kirie’ by Masayo Fukuda

Today we look at the intricate work of Japanese artist Masayo Fukuda, who makes extremely detailed and delicate pictures by cutting out sections from a single piece of paper:

The art of Kirie, literally meaning “cut-picture" is thought to have originated in Japanese religious ceremonies around 700 AD.

Masayo started paper cutting when she was in high school. She had always liked drawing and making birthday cards that were a bit different for friends and family.

She draws a detailed image, usually on white paper, and then uses an extremely sharp scalpel type of instrument to cut out tiny sections as a 'negative' space. Of course the works are two-dimensional and have no depth. So Masayo tries to express depth using both thick and very fine lines, and that contrast of the lines gives a three dimensional quality to the resulting panels which form the image.

The total picture is revealed against a black background, which makes both the detail and the depth stand out.

Masayo has long been fascinated with sea creatures, since growing up near Kujukuri Beach in Chiba Prefecture, which is a famous surfing spot. She was fascinated with collecting seashells as a young child, and was keen to learn more about the creepy and mysterious creatures of the deep, such as jellyfish, octopus and deep sea fish.

As an adult she was shocked to see the bleached corals off the island of Okinawa (south of Japan). She now features a lot of marine creatures in her work as a way to draw attention to the beauty of the ocean and the terrible effects of man-made substances such as plastics, which are ruining these pristine habitats.

It requires intense concentration and a steady hand, as you can imagine! I’m not sure that I would have the patience or a sufficiently steady hand to undertake this work!

If you would like to watch this 3 minute video you will see other examples of Masayo’s work, and gain an appreciation of just how tiny some of the detail really is……