A public garden & cultural center

Asuka Hishiki

Prickly, Tender and Steamy: Artists in the Hothouse 
Glyndor Gallery | April 8–May 18, 2014 

Asuka Hishiki approaches even the most everyday vegetables and fruits as if they were exotic specimens. She paints them with the care and precision of a botanical illustrator, capturing every imperfection. These paintings are done in watercolor on stark white paper. While participating in the Winter Workspace program, Hishiki completed two ambitious works: Diary – 2013 Winter Wave Hill Conservatory, on view in this exhibition, and Butterfly Tree, a large, collaged work based on one of Wave Hill’s magnolia trees.

Diary – 2013 Winter Wave Hill Conservatory is a documentation of many days spent in the conservatory during Hishiki’s Winter Workspace residency. Thirty-seven intricate watercolor paintings are arranged on a grid, each one representing a day spent observing a different plant in the greenhouse. These specimens are not necessarily the flashiest or most stunning plants in the Conservatory’s collection, but Hishiki’s detailed renderings give the viewer an appreciation of even the humblest twig or leaf.

The overwhelming detail in the conservatories is what most attracted me to them. To see so many plants placed side by side in a small place was like visiting a candy store. This was especially true in the winter, when the garden was covered by chilly gray and snow white. To enter the dazzling, green Conservatory, I felt like Hansel and Gretel seeing the candy house in the gray forest. I wanted to document my time in the greenhouse but wasn’t sure how because my method of painting is so time-consuming it would take me much more than a month to complete even one painting. I came up with the idea to draw a tiny part of one plant each day. Everything was so appealing, it was hard for me to pick each day; it was exactly the same feeling of picking only one candy at the store when I was small.

—Asuka Hishiki

For the past three years, her work has been shown at the International Juried Botanical Art Exhibition at the Horticultural Society of New York. In 2012, she had a solo exhibition at the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park. She has exhibited in numerous shows of botanical art in New York and beyond. Hishiki grew up in Japan, where she received her MFA from the Kyoto City University of the Arts.

Diary – 2013 Winter Wave Hill Conservatory, 2013, watercolor on paper, 24” x 36.” Courtesy of the artist.

Winter Workspace 2013
Glyndor Gallery | January 2 – March 24, 2013

Asuka Hishiki in her Winter Workspace studio, 2013. Courtesy of Wave Hill.

Click here for more information about the artist.

The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.; Michael J. Shannon; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The Pollock-Krasner Foundation; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.