folded and beautiful Asian age

Uma Nair
Aug 22, 2014 11:46PM

‘The Folded Garden’ combines the Japanese art of origami with oil-on-canvas and enamel-paint-on-board creations to make for installations that move beyond paper, using materials like polypropylene, brass and silk

Origami is an unusual choice for creating a series of art installations, one might think. Not simply because the Japanese art is entirely based on folding sheets of paper but also because the process of folding is in itself an extremely labour-intensive task. An exhibition titled “The Folded Garden” recently showcased origami-inspired abstract artworks and installations by Delhi-based landscape designer, architect and origami artist Ankon Mitra, curated by Uma Nair.

Each of the exhibits combined stunning visual beauty with fascinating spiritual depth. “The idea was to show how our universe constantly folds and unfolds into many things. Origami is all about creating beautiful things by folding a square sheet, similar to what nature does be it plants, flowers or caterpillars,” the artist explains.

Inspired and influenced by the rich and vibrant landscape traditions of India, the artworks were abstract but vividly evocative, bringing to mind several facets and components of nature as we experience it visually: flowers, fruits, trees, water and even the sun. Mitra, using his thumbs and index fingers, has creased, edged, contoured and folded vibrantly coloured paper into various such forms that closely resemble nature.

“Some of the works took two months, while some took six to twelve folds. In others, there were more complex sculptures: I had used around 300 folds to create one of them,” he shares.

Besides paper, he has also looked to use more diverse media including metals, plastics and fabric. Having worked extensively with various types of paper over the last eight years, the artist has even taken his folding techniques successfully to materials as varied as polypropylene, brass, silk and buckram, juxtaposing these materials with traditional oil-on-canvas and enamel-paint-on-board mediums, thus expanding the ever-increasing potential of origami geometry and technology to marry with more traditional expressions of art.

Mitra has also used thin aluminium sheets to create two of the works on display. “Aluminium gives a shine to the sculpture. Paper comes to life, however, as my origami proceeds,” he shares and points out that he has usedwooden frames for the paper creations in an attempt to preserve them.

The works on display bend to several abstract formations depending on the angle of vision, as patterns or as an individual modular elements. For instance, the Golden Plume paper sculpture might appear like the sun at first glance and then begin to resemble a peacock dancing in the sun as you move closer. “Some of the shapes in several exhibits may appear like a golden dragon first, then a butterfly, a caterpillar or even a snake,” the artist says.

Art critic Uma nair, who has curated the showcase, concludes, “Our idea was not to make an art project that can be critiqued by people. It was meant to be taken as an experiment of various geometrical formations.”

Uma Nair