Strange Plants is a celebration of plants in contemporary art. The book features the work of 25 artists—from oozing paintings of rotting cacti to eerie, mesmeric photos of the leafy kudzu vine—and discusses the role plants play in the artists’ personal lives.
For the book, editor Zio Baritaux brought together eight artists whose work focuses on the natural world: Erik Parker, Helene Schmitz, Paul Wackers, Lee Kwang-Ho, Taylor McKimens, David Axelbank, Stephen Eichhorn and Aiyana Udesen. In-depth interviews and articles are presented alongside images that showcase the instinctive and unique ways plants are represented in the artists’ works. For example, Lee Kwang-Ho transmutes his inner desires into sensational portraits of enlarged cacti; Stephen Eichhorn constructs elaborate collages out of foliage; and David Axelbank, who is drawn to the unpredictable nature of flowers and film, photographs plants at night.
In addition to assembling artists whose work centers around plants, a group of artists who do not typically focus on that subject matter were asked to develop new work. The “Strange Plants” feature, for which artists created an unusual plant in their own aesthetic—from the giant, putrid corpse plant to the wrinkly brain cactus—includes Eddie Martinez, Richard Colman, Sam Friedman, Mark Mulroney, Patrick Martinez, Matt Furie, Alvaro Ilizarbe, Ryan Travis Christian and Alejandro Diaz.
Several tattoo artists, particularly those with distinct or surreal styles, were also asked to create works with plants in mind. FUZI UVTPK, Isaiah Toothtaker, L.M. Knight, Glue Sniffer, Slawomir Nitschke, David Cote, Charley Gerardin and Tomas Redrey contributed flash designs, ranging from a flowerpot smoking a cigarette to an opium poppy in the shape of a naked woman.
“The artists in this book were challenged to think about their work in new ways and ruminate on their unique experiences with plants,” editor Zio Baritaux says. “I hope this book will inspire others, and challenge the way people look at both plants and art.”
Strange Plants was designed by Folch Studio, an award-winning design house in Barcelona, which also developed Apartamento magazine. Folch was engaged in all aspects of the design and production of Strange Plants, and created a delicate and tactile cover inspired by the interactive nature of pressing flowers inside a book.
Thanks to Folch, Strange Plants was awarded the gold prize for best editorial project by the Art Directors Club of Europe, and won the gold trophy at the Laus Graphic Design and Visual Communications Awards. For winning the top prize at the Laus Awards, Strange Plants became a part of the endowment of the Barcelona Design Museum.