PETALING JAYA, March 3 — The wall seems to come alive with a swarm of blood-red and snowy-white butterflies. No, this isn’t a scene from an insectarium or a fantasy film but rather part of Cutting Works, a solo exhibition by Japanese paper-cutting artist Yutaka Takahashi.
The exhibition, which is being held at Koncent Malaysia — a Japanese zakka store which has its roots in Tokyo — is the latest showcase of Takahashi’s intricate artwork entirely cut by hand from paper.
Takahashi, who has exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Gifu, Japan and the Far East Museum of Fine Arts in Khabarovsk, Russia, has also collaborated on design projects with UNIQLO and the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) for the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Creativity comes naturally to Takahashi. He explains, “I was born in 1972 at Gifu, Japan. During my childhood, I have always enjoyed drawing pictures. My father was a barber while my grandfather was a carpenter. So, probably, this was the blood line of creativity that was passed down to me.”
Japanese style paper-cutting as an artform is derived from Chinese paper-cutting which dates back to 450 A.D. In Japan, there are two main streams of paper-cutting — kamikiri, where the paper-cutting is performed on the spot before an audience, and kirie, which eschews the performance in favour of more complex designs.
Modern paper-cutting artists employ both techniques or styles, often updating it for a contemporary audience. Indeed, the Cutting Works exhibition displays an entire spectrum of paper-cutting designs, from whimsical creatures to duelling kendo practitioners.
Over the weekend (March 4&5) at Koncent Malaysia, Takahashi will conduct portrait cutting sessions as well as workshops to teach participants how to make their own “cat” hanging mobiles.
The art of paper cutting has a special place in Takahashi’s heart due to its very fragile nature. He says, “I am inspired by the shadows made by cutting. Oil painting and other art forms can be redone or reworked, but you can’t do that with paper cutting. There is no redoing, and you cannot mix colours such as ink. In other words, cutting paper to form a picture is a one-shot game, and the result is pure.”
For his latest collection, Takahashi had a core concept for showcasing different points of view. He says, “All things are multi-faceted. There is a shadow because there is light. It depends on where you look at things.
"But, as a matter of fact, the things themselves never change at all. Therefore, my biggest challenge, as a paper-cutting artist, is not to be caught by the concept of paper-cutting — not to be too tied down but to always explore and think out of the box.”
The true artist in Takahashi shines through by the way he seeks to live his life: ever in search of authentic flow in his work. Yet he doesn’t believe in art for art’s sake. He says, almost cryptically, “Continuity is power. Art is self expression, but it is for the people.”
Cutting Works by Yutaka Takahashi
The exhibition runs till April 2, 2017 at KONCENT Malaysia (30-1, Jalan PJU 13D, SunwayMas Commercial Centre, PJ). Open to public Tues-Fri 11am-9pm; Sat-Sun 11am-7pm; closed Mon. Tel: 03-7886 9340.
Paper-cutting Sessions by Yutaka Takahashi on Sat & Sun (March 4&5, 2017):
12pm: Meet & Greet and Portrait Cutting Session 1*
1pm: Cat Mobile Making Workshop Session 1**
2:30pm: Meet & Greet and Portrait Cutting Session 2*
3:30pm: Cat Mobile Making Workshop Session 2**
*Portrait cutting sessions are limited to 15 minutes per portrait @ RM60 each.
**Cat Hanging Mobile Workshop is limited to 10 pax per session at RM60 each.
To register for the workshop, kindly send an email to [email protected] stating your preferred day and time slot, subject to first come, first served basis.