At Apparao Galleries, architect and artist Ankon Mitra is busy setting up his art installation. A staff hammers a hexagonal golden plate on to the wall, and nuts, bolts and screws lie scattered on the floor. Ankon’s artwork looks like an intricately-folded paper from afar. “Origami?” we ask. “Orchitecture,” he replies.
He explains that the art is a blend of origami and architecture. An architect by profession, Delhi-based Ankon got interested in origami in 2009, for reasons far too philosophical for an art that is often considered a child’s hobby. “It was the deep connection with ‘folding’ in Nature that inspired me. Be it the sound of waves, flowers, branches, leaves… everything involves folding. Mountains and coastlines of countries are essentially folds that happen as a result of interaction between earth and earth, earth and water,” he says.
Ankon has exhibited his works previously in the city. Those were large installations — lamps and chandeliers made of paper, but the new series is made of aluminium and brass sheets. “It is definitely a challenging task. First, I experiment using paper, and try to create different forms. Once I fix the design, I try replicating the same using a thin metal sheet to see where the damage could occur. And once I gauge that, I bend large sheets of metal to get the same form. And, since the installations are large and the sheets are not as flexible as paper, I use nuts and bolts to fix them,” he explains. Among his works are what seem like a spiral white staircase and a giant metal web.
Sharing space with his works are those of Sophie Jo. The French-born, city-based artist made India her home over a decade ago, and ever since, has been working on the series ‘People of the world’. Her works show the backs of a multitude of men and women, a majority of them Indians. “I have travelled the length and breadth of the country, observing people. It all started when I had first come to India, and was overwhelmed by the traffic. Wherever I saw, there were people and vehicles,” she says. What started there soon grew into an obsession, with Sophie taking photographs of people from different cultures, recording them in her memory, and reproducing all of it on her canvas. “It is my interpretation. I don’t replicate the photographs, but attempt to bring out the identity of a certain set of people through certain elements,” she says. For example, one of her works has the backs of a bunch of men in turbans, an inspiration that came to her after visiting Rajasthan. Other paintings feature women in long braids, colourful dupattas, and a few balancing baskets of fish on their heads.
Her interest in the country finds its root in her parents’ love for photography. “They used to travel around the world, and bring back photos. When I was 10, they showed me photos of India and I was awestruck. Since then, I have been wanting to come here. And if you see, most of my works are inclined towards the countryside. That is because of the photos I saw many years ago,” she laughs. But, why no faces? “Just to add mystery to the work. My paintings are figurative, and if I draw faces, what else is left there to imagine?”
The exhibition, Between the Fold, is on at Apparao Galleries, Wallace Gardens, till December 12.