Is it possible to conjure magic out of paper? Well, as writers use the power of words to make us believe in the existence of magic, then Ahmedabad-based Parth Kothekar uses paper as a medium to create works of art that unassumingly boast of unparalleled precision that seems almost magical.
Parth’s studio, Papercut, is bound to leave you mesmerised. Using only pencils for sketching and surgical scalpels to carve, the 27-year-old artist breathes life into sheets of paper by transforming them into beautiful paper cut art.
Feathers, sari-clad mermaids, floral vines, trees, dragonflies, paisley designs and life-size portraits of men with man buns and even Game of Thrones characters with an Indian twist—Parth enchants these oft-used subjects to take on an ethereal appeal when he casts them in Paper.
Paper is no easy medium to work on; however, the effortless way Parth translates intricacy and detail into each of his work prove otherwise.
As an art, Paper cutting is not new. We have all tried our hands at it during our school days. While some managed to excel with the virtue of their creative hands, most of us ended up with disfigured pieces of paper and of course, paper cuts.
Fun Fact: Did you know that the art form first made an appearance as early as in the 4th century AD, during the Han Dynasty in China? Roughly three centuries after the Chinese invented paper.
We caught up with Parth to find out what started this unusual love affair with paper.
“It all started with an experiment. I wanted to prove my capabilities as an artist on a larger scale, and I decided to go ahead with graffiti. While I was making stencils for the same, I stumbled upon paper cut art, and that engrossed me. If you think about it, stencils are just the inverse of paper cut. So I began experimenting more and more, and before I knew, paper cut art was something I wanted to pursue not as a hobby but as a serious profession,” says Parth to The Better India.
Right from childhood, Parth held an inclination toward art and design which led him to study animation after completing school education.
“Because I was keen on designing, I thought studying animation would be the best option and even joined an undergraduate course. As I started working with software, I realised that I preferred two-dimensional animation better and more importantly, sketching. I left the course and devoted my entire time to hone my sketching skills full time,” Parth recalls.
That was in 2012, and paper cut art came shortly after. His first-ever solo exhibition featured 84 artworks that Parth had created during the year 2013.
“The response had been overwhelming perhaps because such an art form was new to everyone. I got many compliments and was featured by local newspapers. After that, I started travelling across India not just to exhibit my works but also to reach out to an audience that would also understand my handiwork,” Parth says.
Following the positive reception to his prowess, Parth got an opportunity to exhibit his work in Wellington, New Zealand.
“That was an eye-opening experience for me. Everyone knew about this art form there, and I got stupendous reception for my work and themes, instead of just getting attention for cutting technique and intricacies of artwork. This was in complete contrast with the reception I got here, as I later comprehended that the Indian crowd was not much oriented with this kind of medium. Hence, people give more attention to understand the technique when they come across such an art form. The artist’s expression just gets lost in translation,” he explains.
So what inspires him, we ask? Personal life, day-to-day things and sometimes, anything that catches his fancy comes the reply.
“Anything that catches my attention, I work it out and then try to develop it into series of work. Once I’m sure about the concept, I get to the sketching part. I normally work on 20 to 25 sketches for every concept, out of which, I select 8 to 10 artworks that finally get converted into paper cuts,” he says.
Regarding concepts and works that challenged him, Parth talks about two projects that are quite close to his heart.
“There was a collaboration with Tanishq, where I made a layered paper cut work as part of their visual merchandising. It was challenging as this work had to appear three-dimensional! Also, I’d pushed myself to design dome-shaped structures using paper cut for a Dubai-based events design company,” he adds.
Today, Parth has people buying his beautiful artworks from across the world through his Etsy handle. He works on customised orders too. But to reach where he has today, Parth had been through a fair share of struggles.
“This art form was relatively new to India when I’d first displayed my work in 2013. Like I mentioned earlier, I started travelling and exhibiting my works across the country to make paper cut more recognised. But to fund all of that, I’d to pawn my bike about six times and even sold my phone. By the end of it, I was in debt. While everyone kept appreciating my work, no one was buying it. People often asked me as to what should they do with my artwork,” Parth remembers.
After a year, he decided to pursue paper cut art as a profession and started working from his studio, Papercut.
Shortly after, he launched his Etsy store, and there has been no looking back. Taking anywhere between two to 20 days, the smallest piece that Parth has created is a one-centimetre jewellery piece, while the largest is a 40×35 inch portrait. He uses a magnifying glass while working on smaller pieces
As for future plans, Parth says, he doesn’t know. “I’m always challenging myself with new concepts. Besides that, I’m also experimenting with many new materials. So, I’m excited myself and waiting to see what comes along my way next!” he concludes.
With extraordinary skill and an eye for detail to match, we’re sure an artistic genius like Parth has a successful career ahead and we wish him luck.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)