When self-taught artists turn sheets of paper into intricate works of art and call it meditation
If Japan gave us origami, then China gave us cut paper. Art that dates back to the 4th century AD has recently found a resurgence among artists and enthusiasts. And the exclusivity (most artists create unique pieces), as well as the fact that you can design at home with inexpensive tools – a cutter, scissors and a sheet of paper are all you need for creating complex and striking work – are just a few of its advantages. With #papercut attracting over four lakh posts on Instagram and many artists selling their work online, we wonder if this would make for an interesting interior design?
According to Samvit Blass, owner of Light Fish, the Auroville-based product design company, while paper-cut art may not be durable (unless it’s framed), it’s ideal as wall art and you can use pop-up book sculptures as compelling decorative accents. Four artists tell us about the inspiration behind their work.
With nearly 2,000 Instagram followers, Patel’s account is packed with underwater scenes, folk musicians, elephants and peacock feathers, all created with paper. But the 24-year-old says he got into the art form quite by accident. “In college, I started using paper as a medium for my projects. Seeing my interest, a friend suggested that I research the works of Los Angeles-based paper sculptor Jeff Nishinaka, ”says the self-taught artist, who is now experimenting with light boxes and book sculptures. He recently made a sculpture on the work of RK Narayan To guide.
What started out as personalized orders for friends has now resulted in a small but growing customer base. His nature-themed work is popular – from intricate jellyfish to light dandelions as precisely cut feathers – explains the graphic designer, who has also done projects for clients in the United States. Currently, he is focusing on creating 3D designs. “For these, my creative process is threefold: hand drawing, digital rendering and hand cutting.
For his light boxes, he recreates photographs by breaking them down into layers and turning them into paper sculptures – a process that takes around five to 10 days (depending on the size and complexity of the design). The idea of his sculpture book struck him while reading To guide. “I read a page where RK Narayan describes the station building, the lampposts and the trees that surround it. I wanted to recreate it, using pages from the book. If he’s planning to have an exhibition, it’s not just about making money. “Paper cutting is like meditation; it’s my way of relaxing, ”Patel concludes.
From 2,500. Details: [email protected]
Engineer turned HR professional, Mariyah Farooqui turned to paper cutting last year. “I learned oil painting from my aunt at the age of 11 and that’s where my interest in art started,” says the town’s artist, who also tried charcoal drawing, glass painting and quilling. “I was never happy when I worked in HR; my mind kept coming back to art. Now I’m glad I made a long term plan based on what I love, ”she adds.
Farooqui’s interest in paper cutting began after seeing the work of American-Israeli visual artist Ruth Mergi and Japanese artist Riu. While mandalas are her favorite choice, the 32-year-old enjoys working on architectural motifs – like the Eiffel Tower and Santhome Basilica in Chennai – nature and Islamic art. “Mandalas represent hope and continuity, and that interests me, ”says Farooqui, who believes art can help you heal.
Price between ₹ 5,000
and 1 lakh. Details: [email protected]
Four years in the UK earned Agarwala a degree in economics and an enduring love of paper cutting. “In 2013, I came across the work of Norway-based paper artist Karen Bit Vejle. It was mind blowing, and I realized that not many people in India knew about it as an art form. I liked its original nature, ”says Agarwala, who now juggles her art with a career in investment banking. She uses her Instagram page – which has a wonderful selection of intricate vintage maps, cityscapes, and plenty of nature-inspired pieces – to take orders.
The majority of his art depicts architectural wonders, such as “Through the Mirror”, which draws inspiration from the delicate patterns of Moroccan architecture; “City Lights”, a tip of the hat to his love for big cities; and ‘Tree of Life’, its tribute to Mughal architecture, which portrays the intricacy jaali work at the Sidi Saiyyed mosque in Amadavad. “As a child, I wanted to be an architect and I continue to draw inspiration from the subject. I design my works according to the places I have visited or that I would like to visit, ”explains the 24-year-old.
In addition to framed work, Agarwala creates temporary art installations, display cases, wall hangings and wall art. “Using rooms with the right kind of lighting can make any space bigger; Shadow play is an interesting use of paper cut art, ”she shares.
Price between 8,000 and 50,000. Details: [email protected]
The paper figures take a traditional turn in the hands of Shah, a sanjhi artist. The 66-year-old, who learned the art from her grandfather, says the Indian art of paper cutting is associated with the architecture of Vaishnavite temples and religious celebrations in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Typical of Mathura in Uttar Pradesh (the home of Lord Krishna), artists create deities and abstract concepts with just a pair of scissors and colored paper.
“Unlike ordinary paper cutting, Sanjhi is 3D art. I ‘lift’ the designs from the paper, and that adds a stunning visual element to the designs, ”says Shah, who specializes in havelis, jharokhas and Krishna Leelas. Although the art is unique, she says there are few takers for it today as it does not fall under established categories like painting and sculpture. Shah, who receives the majority of his orders from companies, designs panels in various sizes – from 8×8 square inches to 4×4 square feet – with prices up to 5 lakh. Details: jaishreepankaj.com