When people see Hiroki Saito's amazing work, they ask themselves: is it a photo or a painting? The answer is neither one nor the other. Saito actually practices a careful variation of the traditional Japanese art of kiri-e or kirigami (carved image). In this ancient craft, the artist uses a sharp blade to carefully cut pieces of washi paper - a thin paper made from the fibres of the mulberry tree. Saito contributed to this tradition by creating strikingly complex designs that mimicked the style of stained glass. To do this, the artist begins with a large sheet of black paper on which he carefully cuts out fine lines and shapes. This creates a “frame” for the coloured paper pieces added later.
It is this striking contrast, in addition to the high level of detail in his compositions, that makes Saito's work so pleasing to the eye. Additionally, these complex designs are cut in an unusually large format, often A4 or A3, which can take the artist up to four months to complete. However, once they are finished, viewers can take their time and enjoy the amazing work of art.