Believe it or not, but these gorgeous geometric sculptures were created out of ordinary sheets of paper by artist Matt Shlian. Based on the principles of origami, the ‘paper engineer’ uses complex folding techniques to create waves of intricately proportioned protuberances, arising from a flat, wall-mounted surface in a visually arresting array of patterns and colors.
Scroll down below to see these beguiling sculptures for yourself, and check out Matt’s Instagram and Facebook for info about upcoming exhibitions.
Having started his journey in ceramics, Shlian soon realized that there was so much more on the artistic menu to nibble on. “I studied, glass, painting, performance, sound and by the end I had a dual major in ceramics and print media,” he writes. “I loved the immediacy of paper as a medium. I also loved the geometry. Figuring out the pieces was like solving a puzzle. I understand things spatially; I have to see something to make sense of it. One of my faculty advisers started buying me pop-up books and I started dissecting them and figuring out how they worked. It took off from there.”
Puzzles are best solved by trial and error, learning from one’s mistakes. Shlian credits his curiosity as the starting point for his work, not a visualization of a finished piece, so an original idea can quickly evolve into something totally different and unexpected. “My process is extremely varied from piece to piece,” he says. “Often I start without a clear goal in mind, working within a series of limitations. For example, on one piece I’ll only use curved folds or make my lines this length or that angle etc. Other times I begin with an idea for movement and try to achieve that shape or form somehow. Along the way, something usually goes wrong and a mistake becomes more interesting than the original idea and I work with that instead. I have to make the work in order to understand it. If I can completely visualize my final result I have no reason to make it- I need to be surprised.”
“I cannot explain how I make my sculptures in a general sense- each one is different. I don’t share my diagrams or cut patterns. I learned by taking things apart, doing things the “wrong way” and being curious. Getting something wrong is way more important to learning than copying something perfectly.”
Now internationally recognized, with his art exhibited in several galleries at home and abroad, Shlian appreciates the financial support that enables him to dedicate his time to his work. After 15 years of working tirelessly without pay or recognition, you’d think it might be time to bask in the success his hard work has brought him. However, this artist is only interested in creating, learning and constantly refining his skills. “You have to love the process, shows are nice but I really don’t like the art world/schmooze. I’d rather be in the studio 99% of the time. If you are willing to work like crazy for yourself and no one else then go for it in the arts.”