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Monday, April 11, 2011

Snippy Art

Contemporary Chinese example (for Year of the Dog) in a style that is
like the 6th century form.  Image courtesy of Fanghong/Wikipedia.

Papercutting is the art of cutting out paper designs.  Cultures all over the world have their own unique styles of the art.  No surprise that the oldest known papercut is from 6th century C.E. China, as the Chinese invented paper.  The traditional style of papercutting is Jian Zhi and red is the most commonly used color. Predominantly Chinese Zodiac animals are used.

The art is alive and apparently doing well in China.  Among the many websites dedicated to it, China Art World features some excellent artists in this medium, some whose work is shown below...

Peony Flowers by Ye Kai Yuan.

Old Bejing Scene - "Lao Beijing Bing Tang Hulu" - artist unknown.

River Dock by Gao Dian Liang.

There are also some extraordinary contemporary artists who choose to work in this medium.  One of the well-known ones is Hina Aoyama.  Born in Yokohama in 1970 she currently lives and works in Ferney Volaire, France.  She has been doing her lacy papercutting since 2000, aiming to make the finest cuts in order to replicate the look of lace...



Bovey Lee works with Chinese rice paper made from mulberry tree bark.  She was born in Hong Kong and currently resides and works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She holds two MFAs - one in painting from UC Berkeley, and a more recent one in digital arts from the Pratt Institute.  She combines her knowledge of traditional and digital arts in her paper works.  She works from a digital template, using an X-acto knife to do the cutting...

Power Plant - The Capture of Pieta, 2008.

Little Crimes (detail), 2008.
Tsunami-Enmeshed, 2008.

Peter Callesen is a Danish artist who works almost exclusively with white paper. He mainly uses A4 sheets of paper, stating that it is probably the most common media for carrying information.  By stripping the information and using blank white A4 paper sheets that we all can relate to, he seeks to use its neutrality and create different meaning.  His paper sculptures (made only of paper and glue) expand into space.  An amazing and thoughtful artist, he has become very well-known...

White Hand, 2007.
Half Way Through (detail), 2006.

Distant Wish, 2006.

Down the River, 2005

Kara Walker, a California-born artist, was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World, Artists and Entertainers, in 2007.  She is best known for black cut-paper silhouettes that are room-sized.  In 1997, when she was 28, she became one of the youngest people to receive a MacArthur fellowship. Her work explores race, gender, sexuality, violence and identity.  She currently lives in New York, and is on the faculty of the MFA program at Columbia University...

Camptown Ladies
Cut, 1988

View of Walker's installation at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York,
10/11/07 - 2/3/08.  Photo courtesy of Sheldan C. Collins.

I remember doing a silhouette in grammar school and cutting it out.  My German grandfather also did some simple cut-outs to amuse me.  But I never dreamed of anything like the work above.  Thankfully we are not created equal in our talents, and some people have such a high level of creativity it takes my breath away and inspires me to use mine.  The artists featured here are a "cut above" when it comes to executing their ideas.

Please click on the artists' links to see more of their excellent work!

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