Paper traditionally associates for providing a surface to create on. The imagery made using pigments becomes the work of art. Over the years the papermaking process itself has evolved, from using natural and synthetic fibres to handmade unpolished and mill-made coated ones. Of Paper is a show presented by Gallery Art Motif in New Delhi that brings together creators for whom this media forms the core of their practice. What is unique about the show is that the artists chose to manipulate paper rather than use it as a surface. While Ziya Tarapore’s works are vibrant and playful, works of Sachin George and Sachin Tekade are minimalistic and contemplative.
Two practices that distinctly stand out are that of Pierre Legrand and Ankon Mitra. Both use light as part of the presentation and experience. Legrand’s work made of solid and voids create a play of shadow, while Mitra’s sculptures are back-lit formations. Bells of light by Mitra aspires to provide a sensorial experience. He believes that sometimes we can see sounds, and sometimes we can hear the lights. In this work, elliptical ‘bells’ of crystalline Kirigami fretwork create the ‘sounds’ of a cathedral through light. Light filters through the filigree. Viewer looks up to be transformed.
Legrand explored other forms of art before stumbling upon formed paper as his preferred process. “I had been exploring with drawing, painting, and going in circles for years without any result. I simply had nothing original to say. Then, I went through a drastic inner experience, which changed my life. Though it took me 15 years to come to a convincing result and that culminated into an exhibition Light Matter. I explored the idea of substance, which would be solid, yet at the same time light, porous, and translucent. My choice was paper. I was also clear to make my work immersive and thereby not making it for eye only. I found a way to ‘manipulate’ the surface, in a different way not by using colour,” explains Legrand.
In contrast, Mitra - a trained architect - was fascinated with the traditional Japanese paper crafts. He says, “I fold paper. Folds work with the light. We get colours and shadows just by adding folds. Light behind the work creates evanescent glowing surfaces. Folds and lights work together to create the art. In my work, the flatness of the material is challenged and upended. Techniques of Origami (folds) allows light to be trapped within the material and exposes its inner 'grain', and Kirigami (cuts) allows light to be framed within the defined design structures. A dance of light with paper is an intimate symphony. Like mathematics and music”.
Impermanence of the material is an integral aspect. While others may choose to let their art be ephemeral and transient, Mitra chooses a pragmatic approach as an architect-artist. “I put a lot of energy and research into the longevity aspect of the art I create. New and hybrid materials like stone-paper and polymer-paper are available and I gravitate to these materials, which allow me to exploit all the qualities of traditional paper, while being able to commit long life, strength, robustness, ease of maintaining and cleaning my art,” says Mitra.
At the exhibition Of Paper, there are beautifully curated exhibits where abstract works are open to interpretations. Light falling on the surface exposes each crevasse and creates dynamic experience of play of shadow. Light originating from behind the surface accentuates the grains and cuts. And if one immerses themselves, they will be sure to hear the falling light.
The exhibition Of Paper began on September 28, and is on display till November 1, 2019.
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