Fairly recently, I submitted some of my artwork to a contest for a chance at global recognition on a very large scale, and guess what? I had to submit an Artist’s Statement. Having never had any formal art training (except up until middle school), I had no idea what it was. Turns out, it is a short essay that highlights your story and your passion as an artist. A few blogs back, I wrote a piece entitled ‘The Peace of Paper‘ and I instantly thought of incorporating some (OK, a lot) of those ideas into my statement. Here’s what I came up with. Hope my enthusiasm for art shines through in this from-the-heart statement. Enjoy!
Look around you: there’s despair everywhere. Entertainment just isn’t what it used to be back in the good old days. Watching television is like taking a depressant; a pill that drags you down into the abyss of melancholy, draining out all your optimism and leaving you with a sense of hopelessness. Same is the situation with other entertainment media; be it a viral Youtube video of two brothers being mercilessly beaten by a heartless mob or a newspaper article tallying the number of buses burned in the previous night’s riots. Sure, there are a few avenues promoting light entertainment, but invariably, you end up tuning into one of the news channels to verify whether there’s a strike tomorrow or not, or how many lives were extinguished in the city of lights (Karachi, Pakistan) today. We are so wrapped up in this entertainment revolution that we fail to recognize a multitude of activities that can help nurture our constructive side and even introduce a degree of calmness in our otherwise chaotic existence.
Paper is perhaps one of the most readily available materials on earth and believe it or not, can be used to make beautiful creations. The various sizes, colors, thicknesses, and textures of paper make it a unique medium to work with. As kids, most of us would have folded a boat using a sheet of square paper; that’s Origami (meaning ‘paper folding’). The main idea behind Origami is to take a flat sheet of paper and fold it into a finished sculpture using basic folding techniques. The use of any glue, threads or scissors to create/stabilize the sculpture is a taboo for Origami practitioners. A variation of Origami called Kirigami (meaning ‘paper cutting’) allows the use of scissors to create your sculptures. My most recent obsession these days, however, is Slice Forms; 3D models made using slices of card stock.
I started practicing Origami in1998, my inspirations being Tomoko Fuse and Robert Lang, but went on hiatus from 1999 to 2007. It all changed in 2008 when I was inspired to fold a single paper crane after watching a TV show (Prison Break – no surprises there); and I haven’t looked back since. I started working on more complex and challenging designs and in most cases, finished off the models. I’ve made stars and center pieces, cubes and cranes, dodecahedrons and icosahedrons, arabesques and florals; I just can’t seem to get enough. Sparing free time gets increasingly difficult but I find an hour here, a minute there to work on my latest project. As a natural extension to my passion, I started working on Kirigami models too, copying the greats, never really creating something on my own.
I stumbled upon Scherenschnitte (the Gernan art of paper cutting) and Slice Forms in the mid of 2011, and like any hobbyist, I started off by imitating the greats, like Mashahiro Chatani, John Sharp, and Richard Sweeny, but somewhere on the road to self-contentment, I discovered my own distinct style. I started designing my own models with varying degrees of complexity. Once I start working on a model, I lose all track of time. An unnatural calm surrounds me; the only things I focus on are the slices and the cuts, taking each step carefully, making sure I don’t make any mistakes.
Art is something that comes naturally to me. I have never had any formal training in this area and am 100% self-taught. I’m also a self-taught graphics designer, a photographer, writer, playwright, poet and 3D modeler. I’m still but a novice and I still have miles to go, hoping that one day, my work will be available for all to see, to experience, to appreciate, and to love.
In this uber-destructive world we live in, we should promote constructive concepts. Paper art is just one road that can lead to inner peace and tranquility; there are other art forms that help take your mind off the current state of affairs. I think it is high-time we started talking about something other than all the negative bubbling around us. I don’t want my daughter to come up to me one day and say, “Papa! I want a gun that goes bang-bang-bang”; I’d rather she walks up to me and says, “Papa! I’m out of paper.”