Patrick Cabral re-envisions the intricate veins striping the tail of a fish and grooves in a pangolin’s scales with delicate, lace-like flourishes. The Manila-based artist is known for his sculptural portraits of wild animals and fantastical creatures that layer hundreds of paper cutouts into stunning three-dimensional works. Primarily composed with white, Cabral’s most recent pieces utilize gold for trimming a hippo’s facial features and heightening the depth and texture of the coiling, intertwined bodies of a dragon and its rival. The metallic material also adds contrast to a pair of koi swimming in a circular yin and yang formation.
Currently, Cabral is finishing a few works that will be exhibited from March 18 to 20 as part of Xavier Art Fest, a group exhibition raising money for victims of Typhoon Rai that devastated the southern Philippines last December. Check out his Instagram to see a variety of commissions and personal projects, in addition to a short video detailing his painstaking hand-carving and gluing process.
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Japan-based artist Ayumi Shibata (previously) designs intricate landscapes using layers upon layers of white paper. Some of her sculptures are miniature, whereas others are immersive installations, and all are brought to life with the play of light and shadow, which create “movement” throughout her pieces. The works feature architectural domes, cave-like forests, and swirling suns hovering over tree-filled cities. These picturesque places aren’t based on a particular location but what the artist “hopes and believes the future of the planet could look like”.
Shibata’s ethereal landscapes envision a world in which humans and natural forms coexist, and she describes her pieces as having a “Yin and Yang” element. Paper represents Yin, the material, and the ways the works emit shadows correlates to Yang, the invisible world. “The light represents spirit and life, how the sun rises and breathes life into the world,” she explains. “I believe my pieces are a place to observe the material world and the visible one.”
The physical elements have a deeper meaning for the artist, as well: In Japanese, Kami means god or spirit but also paper, a sacred material in the Shinto religion. “Invisible ‘Kami’ spirits dwell in various objects and events, places, as well as in our houses and in our bodies,” she says. “I use my technique to express my thankfulness to the Kami spirits for having been born in this life. Each piece of paper I cut is a prayer.”
Shibata began constructing these sculptures when living in New York. She would visit a church to meditate and escape the noise of the city, and it was when she observed light illuminating stained glass that she was reminded of her love of working with paper. The artist explains:
The city was full of noise. Everything, people, time goes so fast and moves rapidly, and I needed a quiet space to go back to myself. One day, I opened my eyes after meditation and saw colorful light flooding the floor through the stained glass. It was breathtakingly beautiful. It reminded me of a memory from childhood where I used to cut black paper and stick colored cellophane behind it to make a ‘paper’ stained glass piece. I got the tools on my way home and tried it that night. From that moment, I continued to cut paper.
Currently, Shibata is working on an installation called “Inochino-uta, Poetry of Life,” for an exhibition later this year. The large-scale project is made out of 108 pieces of paper connected by strings and suspended from the ceiling. To view more of the artist’s work, visit her Instagram or website.
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Artist Amy Genser translates gnarled roots, coral reefs, and other organic forms into expansive, abstract topographies. Her primary material is mulberry paper rolled into tight cylinders, which she nestles into colorful masses that trail into seas of acrylic paint. Whether on canvas, PVC, or another base, the dense compositions sprawl in every direction and peek over the edges in small ridges.
After moving to a larger studio space in Hartford, Connecticut, about four years ago, Genser has expanded the scale of her works, which previously were confined to smaller canvases. Recent projects include wall sculptures spanning multiple feet, free-standing pieces, and a site-specific installation titled “Shifting,” which just opened at Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts—see photos of the artist’s process behind the massive work on her Instagram.
No matter the scale or form, each piece speaks to the climate crisis and uses the small, dyed coils to draw “attention to the beauty of our natural world,” she tells Colossal.
There is an inextricable link between my art and environmentalism. I am inspired by our earth and solar system and use natural materials in my work. I primarily use mulberry paper, which is created from the regenerative branches of a mulberry tree. I have a hard time justifying the use of materials with trying to conserve our natural resources. I’m adding new material into the work, more “stuff.” I try to minimize my use of unnatural materials.
For more of Genser’s intricate structures, explore her extensive portfolio.
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We’re continually fascinated by the infinite possibilities of a single sheet of paper, from these dueling origami knights and stately architectural ruins to exquisitely cut depictions of flora and fauna, and a forthcoming book by artist Helen Hiebert devotes its 320 pages to the mediums’ capacity for creativity. Released from Storey Publishing, The Art of Papercraft features 40 projects that elucidate techniques for decorative modifications like marbling and stamping, in addition to more constructive methods like origami and quilling, all done with one sheet. Try your hand at building miniature paper lanterns, assembling whimsical pop-ups, weaving delicate wall hangings by pre-ordering a copy of The Art of Papercraft from Bookshop. (via All Things Paper)
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Whether folding flat, square tessellations or rounded forms that billow from a central point, origami artist Goran Konjevod (previously) focuses on the tension inherent in a single sheet of material. His sculptures draw on his background in mathematics and computer science and configure precise geometries, fanned pleats, and small woven pieces that appear to be individual strips threaded together rather than a series of carefully aligned creases. Each form is a meticulous blend of texture, pattern, and dimension that’s translated into elegant, abstract constructions through repetitive folds.
In recent months, Konjevod has shifted to working with paper infused with encaustic paint, although he’s also created an array of knotted creatures, twisted ropes, and small vessels out of thin sheets of copper, other metals, and mesh. You can find hundreds of his sculptures on his site, and take a peek into his process on Instagram.
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In Yuko Nishikawa’s dappled fields of color, dozens of small pods and curved rings in pale blues, greens, and pastel hues hang in dreamlike suspensions. The Brooklyn-based artist (previously) is known for her delicate mobiles made with recycled paper that she hand-dyes and shapes into wide, sloping bowls or flat hoops. Once dried, she attaches the individual pieces to thin metal armature and hangs the fanciful composition from the ceiling.
Nishikawa’s most recent mobiles augment the paper works with clear glass lenses that catch and refract the light, adding another dimension of color to the whimsical displays. “Looking up, clusters of mobiles against the black painted ceiling was like looking up the stars,” she writes of her recent solo exhibition at Kishka Gallery & Library.
At the moment, Nishikawa is involved in multiple projects, including a display at Main Window Dumbo opening in March and an installation at The Brooklyn Home Company this spring. In addition to her paper pieces, she also creates ceramic works, which will be on view at Friends Artspace in Washington, D.C., through summer. She has dozens of new mobiles available in her shop, and you can keep up with her multi-faceted practice on Instagram.
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