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His fingers and thumbs move effortlessly through paper. For New Delhi-based architect Ankon Mitra, the traditional Japanese paper art is a “robust base for architectural applications". Mitra, 32, is always looking to use the tactile and sculptural qualities of origami in his design and architecture.

In his forthcoming exhibition in New Delhi, starting Saturday, Mitra explores the relationship between nature, landscape and origami. Titled The Folded Garden, the 22 paper sculptures showcase various facets of a garden—flowers, plants, insects, caterpillars and snakes.

“The idea is to show how our universe constantly folds and unfolds into many things. Origami is all about creating a beautiful thing by folding a square sheet, similar to that of nature—be it plants, flowers or caterpillars," says Mitra.

Mitra started working on these pieces in 2012; some of them took two months. And while some of the basic works are made of 6-12 folds, in some of the more complex sculptures, Mitra has used around 300 folds to create the artwork. Using his thumbs and index fingers, he creases, edges, contours and folds vibrantly coloured paper into forms that closely resemble nature.

Mitra has also used thin aluminium sheets to create two of his works. “Aluminium gives a shine to the sculpture; however, paper comes to life as my origami proceeds," says Mitra, who has used German, Italian, handmade and other types of paper. The paper sculptures have wooden frames, an attempt to preserve them.

Sculpture in mainstream art, whether carved, cast or welded, has generally had a finite form. Mitra’s work, however, bends to rather abstract formations, sometimes in a grid-like pattern, sometimes as an individual modular element.

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“My idea is not to make this an art project that can be critiqued by people; rather, take it as an experiment of various geometrical formation," he adds.

The curator of the exhibition, New Delhi-based art critic Uma Nair, says, “Ankon’s sculptures redefine the traditional experience of our understanding of viewing sculptures like those of Henry Moore or (Auguste) Rodin, which requires walking around them."

The Folded Garden, 16-20 August, 10am-8pm, at the The Visual Art Gallery, Indian Habitat Centre, Lodi Road, New Delhi. Prices range from 30,000-1.5 lakh.

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