Ankon Mitra and Apparao Galleries’ ‘On Paper Of Paper’ debuts at India Design ID 2024

Paper, often associated with the mundane tasks of note-taking and packaging, ascends to the forefront of artistic innovation in an exceptional exhibition titled On Paper Of Paper (O.P.O.P) at the esteemed India Design ID, held in Delhi. The event, a brainchild of renowned sculptor and architect Ankon Mitra, and curated in association with the prestigious Apparao Galleries, has undeniably left an indelible mark on India’s creative landscape.

Veer away from preconceived notions of paper as a transient medium; O.P.O.P, already a centerpiece at India Design ID, boasts the collective genius of 75 distinguished artists, designers, and architects, both from the dynamic Indian subcontinent and the larger global art scene. This exposition is not merely a display; it is a groundbreaking exploration into the depths of paper art, design, and architecture, revealing astounding versatility and breadth.

For those unfamiliar, paper art in India has lingered at the periphery of the recognized arts, often overshadowed by more traditional mediums like oil or acrylic. Yet, O.P.O.P shines a spotlight on this underappreciated form, advocating its merit and challenging cultural norms. One cannot help but be captivated by the creations, ranging from the intricate folds of origami to the textural depth of papier-mâché, each piece echoing the material’s latent potential.

The exhibition’s thematic resonance is both ancient and transformative, drawing from the mystical Dashavatār—the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu as depicted in Vedic tradition. Mitra articulates this connection to cultural heritage with a contemporary twist: “The journey begins with a humble sheet of paper but evolves—through techniques like folding, layering, pulping, and cutting—into richly complex forms akin to Vishnu’s metamorphosis from fish to turtle, further to the mighty half-lion-half-man, and beyond.” He eagerly anticipates this evolution to spark a larger ‘paper revolution’ within the realm of artistic expression.

A crowning feature of the exhibition is Vaishali Rastogi’s paper sculpture, a conversation piece that exemplifies the dexterity with which these artists manipulate their chosen medium. Be it through thoughtful cuts that conjure lifelike scenes or softened pulp that takes on an almost clay-like malleability, each artwork challenges the boundaries and breathes life into the seemingly lifeless.

Much of the exhibition’s success rests upon the synergy between Ankon Mitra and the gallery owner Sharan Apparao. This partnership was cemented by a shared adoration for paper and a resonant belief in its untapped potential. Sharan Apparao elaborates, “My discussions with Ankon often revolved around paper’s possibilities. This exhibition is a testament to those conversations. It showcases the staggering number of creatives dedicated to the medium and the diverse techniques they wield to make their visions tangible.”

This spectacular event unfolded at the NSIC Grounds in Okhla, New Delhi, from February 15 to February 18. Crowds thronged the spaces, enveloped by paper’s transformative magic, cementing India Design ID as a premier platform for innovative design and artistic dialogue.

In a world fast advancing toward digital screens and virtual platforms, O.P.O.P serves as a poignant reminder of physical craftsmanship’s enduring allure. The exhibition thus emerges as not just a showcase, but a cultural milestone that redefines paper’s role from passive bystander to an active, shaping force in the ongoing narrative of Indian art. As visitors ponder over the sculptures, installations, and avant-garde architectural models, they leave with a renewed appreciation for a medium that is truly as versatile as the imagination allows.

The hope is that this celebration of paper’s sculptural and architectural potential ignites a broader recognition and appreciation within India’s art community and beyond—ultimately marking a new chapter where paper is not just of art but becomes the very essence of it.

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