Piece of the Week: Daniel Caro’s Green Butterfly, A Visual Haiku

The month of April is National Poetry Month. So, ‘tis the season to celebrate poetry! Luckily for us, visual art and verse seem to jive on similar frequencies as artistic kindred spirits.

A large-scale classical painting is like an epic poem. A portrait is like a sonnet. Found art is like found poetry. An abstract painting is like free verse. 

If our piece of the week, Daniel Caro’s Green Butterfly (oil painting on paper, 15.70”x 11.80”), were a poem, it would be a haiku.

At first glance, haiku seems simple: three lines, 5-7-5-syllable count, and no rhyme-rule. But a haiku’s simplicity is an illusion. With such a tight structure, each syllable is precisely, masterfully selected. Poets embed multifaceted meanings that unfold and bloom through the words of the poem.  

These blossoming poetic moments are cocooned in Caro’s Green Butterfly.

Caro depicts a single, central butterfly made of green floral-printed paper against a light gray background. The butterfly is a work of origami – incidentally, a Japanese art form along with a haiku. Like a haiku, Green Butterfly is delicate, structural, symmetrical, and deep.

The painting is a playful paradox. The result is a thoughtful self-undoing: that flat paper is folded into three-dimension and then three-dimensional paper is painted onto flat paper.

“Origami is a recurrent theme in my paintings basically because they can give some stories to my compositions, and I can use a lot of colorful papers” says the artist.

Through shadowing and arresting realism, Caro employs a technique called “trompe l’oiel” (literally translates from French as “deceives the eye”). The tricksy trompe l’oiel isan illusion; it is an image designed to deceive the viewer into believing it is reality.

His process takes roughly two weeks. His first paints his neutral greys as a background. And then, he paints the butterfly. Finally, he crowns the paintings with details, highlights and shadows.

“I do not care if the butterfly is not perfectly made, to paint mistakes of the model become the painting more real, I think” says Caro.

He follows simple steps of crimping and folding. But the results are complex anatomies and paper palaces structured by its own materiality. He has butterflies, cranes, birds, and T-Rexes in his paper menagerie.

His origami is a tongue-in-cheek version of the popular hobby, butterfly collecting. Butterfly collecting was a family tradition passed down from his grandfather, to his father, and finally to Daniel.

“When I paint on paper I like to let some unpainted border because I want people [to realize that] it is a real oil painting, not a printed image” he says.

See more of Daniel Caro’s art on UGallery