#Kanako Abe

Enormous Animals with Divine Powers Populate Kanako Abe’s Dreamy Papercuts

January 26, 2024

Grace Ebert

All images © Kanako Abe, shared with permission

“My intention is to invite the viewers to feel like they’re in a little story theater when they look at my art,” says Kanako Abe about her latest series. The Seattle-based artist is known for her elegant Kirie works, which feature intricate compositions of flora and fauna carved from single sheets of paper. Employing the same precision and whimsical aesthetic, Abe’s most recent collection shifts from two dimensions to three to embrace the immersive nature of storytelling.

On view through January 30 at Giant Robot in Los Angeles, the new body of work layers green sprigs into dense thickets of foliage. Dreamlike scenes nest inside the soft copse frames and evoke the Japanese folklore of Nushi. Translating to guardian or spirit, the myth refers to divine wild animals inhabiting mountains and forests that, over centuries, have grown to gigantic proportions. Because of their immense powers, the creatures are often respected and feared.

In Abe’s nighttime scenes, enormous wolves and deer greet a young girl donning a red cape. “To me, Nushi symbolizes timeless wisdom that remains constant regardless of the changing world around us,” she says. “I think we can all relate to this sentiment—that, sometimes, we need to step back from the world, embracing moments of isolation to rediscover ourselves.”

For more of Abe’s works and glimpses into her practice, including her dyeing process, check out her Instagram.


#Kanako Abe


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