Our brains may be tapped into the digital world of selfies, Tinder and dog videos, but when it comes to art, the love we have for paper, in its many forms, still remains. There is a certain charm and sense of peace that comes from putting brush to paper, folding it into different shapes or even cutting it up to create something new altogether. From origami and kirigami to paper cut, collage and sculptures, artists are constantly transforming this modest resource into beautiful works of art.
We all created our own works of flying art when we were younger through soaring paper planes across classrooms. Today we look at some amazing Indian artists that are cutting, folding, bending, glueing, rolling and transforming paper in innovative ways, using it imaginatively in ways we never thought possible.
I. Parth Kothekar
Paper cut artworks are individually sketched and hard-carved using a special paper cut knife on a single sheet of paper. The precision required is pretty immense considering one slip of the hand could ruin the entire creation and make you start over. Ahmedabad-based Parth Kothekar is well-versed in this method, and his creations are beautiful and delicate.
It was during his experiments with graffiti stencil that he took up this new form. “This art form made me feel more connected to my work. I felt the ‘life’ in them,” he said. His work is based on aspects of everyday life, observations and situations, he explained, “The thing with paper cuts is that one doesn’t know the final output until the end. I have an assumption of what it might look and that is what I work with. It is the curiosity of finding out if I have got it that keeps me going.”
You can view more of his work, purchase artwork and even request your own here.
II. Archana Kumar
While she isn’t working towards her PhD in electronics engineering, Archana Kumar spends her time quilling. Best known as paper filigree, quilling is the art of rolling narrow strips of paper into scrolls or coils and arranging them to create intricate patterns and designs. Archana’s work goes beyond quilling, in fact, she goes beyond the paper rolls and gets innovative with her approach. Her geometric works are as eye-catching as the rest of her designs, and she always creates her series with a set of three works that follow a distinct colour palette or theme.
Quilling for her was a chance discovery when she came across the works of Yulia Brodskaya and Kathleen Usova on Pinterest, she tells All Things Paper. Known popularly as Tealcup, Archana turned to quilling as a respite from stressful University work. From her work so far, Lakhnau and her Tribe series have to be our favourite, and we can’t wait to see what she creates next.
Check out her work on her website.
III. Sukanta Dasgupta
Pune-based artist Sukanta Dasgupta spends days carefully planning and executing each piece of his work in a style called Pune-based artist Sukanta Dasgupta spends days carefully planning and executing each piece of his work in a style called papier collé. It’s hard to believe at first glance that his creations aren’t oil paintings. The longer you look and pay attention to the details, you soon notice the numerous little pieces of paper that have been intricately and precisely organised to create this incredible work of art.
This is far from a simple cut-and-paste collage. He explains that each piece of paper is cut according to its colour, texture, reflectivity, style of printing and many such aspects that go into its collection. The term ‘taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture’ has never been more apt than when viewing Dasgupta’s work. Saying papier collé requires patience and determination would be an understatement. Gupta’s pieces give viewers the chance to find beauty in the chaos, if nothing it could be ordered chaos, of sorts.
IV. Hari & Deepti
We’re just going to start off by saying that these guys are paper cut magicians. It’s more than just paper cut, in fact, they create whimsical, magical worlds of shadow, light and paper – one we’d happily step into.
The artistic couple Hari, a graphic designer and illustrator, and Deepti, an Interaction Designer and trained artist, took up paper cut for fun back in 2010. Little did their know that their work would soon take social media by storm and draw the eyes of people the world over.
Their creations are given incredible depth and perspective with their use of paper in layers. Each sheet is individually cut with great precision and arranged in front of each other to create the wondrous landscape illuminated with carefully placed LED lights – they’re now even creating book covers in their style.
V. Sabeena Karnik
You may recognise Sabeena’s incredible quilling work from this year’s Independence Day Google doodle. The Mumbai-based illustrator, graphic designer and ‘paper typographer’ creates intricate and clean lettering and designs through quilling. Working with products, advertisements, publishing houses, major brands like Tanishq and editorials, working with agencies around the world.
As she said, “The world of paper is so vast and magical; no matter how much you explore, the possibilities are limitless!”
You can view more of her work on her Behance page.
VI. Himanshu Agrawal
From small paper-folded peacocks to four-feet-tall fire breathing dragons, Himanshu’s work and scale know no bounds – he even got a spot in the Limca Book of Records for a 105 feet long and 30 feet tall dragon paper sculpture that had to be folded in an aeroplane hangar.
Having had his work showcased at events and art shows around the world, he began practising Origami in 1989 and has since grown in and development to create his own technique and style of large scale Origami and expressive paper sculptures.
Himanshu has breathed new life into this ancient art of paper folding. “Origami is all about having infinite patience, a mind for mathematical equations and strong visualisation powers,” he said in an interview. We can’t wait to see his next monumental creation.
VII. Sachin George Sebastian
It was during his time at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, that Sachin fell in love with the art of paper engineering. He was mesmerised by the geometry and magic of paper craft but he is now expanding to include more mediums of expression. His primary subject has been the city itself, the collective history of a metropolis while stories are either told or fade quietly into oblivion. As he previously shared in an interview with Homegrown, “The simple life in a city, the beauty of its chaos, its power on its subjects and its magnetic nature irrespective of its weight, make way for my process.”
He works on the juxtaposition between organic and inorganic facets of the city, showing towering skyscrapers amid intricate flowers. He’s constantly pushing the boundaries when it comes to our understanding of paper art and installations and continuously strives to challenge himself as well as his audience in how we perceive the world around us. While there are many exceptional artists in the country today, he remains one to be watched.
VIII. Nibha Sikander
A graduate from MSU, Baroda, Nibha makes intricate paper cut works of insects, birds and beautiful butterflies, and has provided us with a strange fascination now for moths. It’s hard to distinguish reality from art when it comes to her work, it’s as realistic as it gets. While we’ve been able to find little of her work online, we can’t wait to see what this incredible artist creates next.
You can keep up with her work on Instagram.
IX. Sudipta Das
What Sudipta does with her collage work is fascinating. She breaks down known narratives to reconstruct them in fragments to create a new visual narrative, drawing attention back to historical moments often lost in archives. Histories can be changed and altered, this is what she addresses through her work.
Describing herself as a ‘fourth-generation Bangladeshi migrant in India’, there is empathy for the world’s refugee crisis in her work, especially in ‘The Great Shift’. Building off ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’ by Katsushika Hokusai, there is a clear sense of displacement in ‘The Great Shift’ that comprises of a multitude of small pieces of torn-up paper painstakingly put back together. You notice the shades of brown prevalent in her creation since after she tears the paper, she dips them in coffee and tea, then leaves them out to dry.