Artist Sipho Mabona Shows the Beauty of Deconstructed Origami

published Dec 31, 2020
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With origami, you can create beautiful, complex shapes from paper. But if you disassemble an origami object, you’ll see that the folds left behind are also beautiful in their own right. This is the space Swiss artist Sipho Mabona works in: origami focused on foldlines rather than representational shapes.

Earlier this week, Instagram shared a video of Mabona at work, using a large piece of ombre-dyed fabric. As you watch, you might wonder what he’s making. A flower? A bird? But in the end, the final form is abstract. Mabona’s careful folds have made striking geometric fan- and star-shaped lines on the red paper.

According to Colossal, Mabona works with cotton, which he dyes himself with natural materials like indigo and mulberry. His foldline work appears abstract but is imbued with meaning. The series below, for example, “We Will Bleed,” “We Are Bleeding,” “We Bled,” the artist created in response to Black Lives Matter. 

Mabona’s origami is not always abstract. In 2014, he raised $26,000 on Indiegogo to fold a life-size, ten-foot-tall elephant from a single sheet of paper. The project “took a team of nearly a dozen people over four weeks to fold,” Colossal reports.

While fundraising for the sculpture, the artist told Slate that developing the elephant pattern took about a month.

“He said that his process is a combination of precise geometry and artistic intuition,” wrote Slate’s Kristin Hohenadel. “To make a work of origami, he makes all the folds in the paper before refolding along the crease lines to assemble a finished 3-D object. The beauty of a piece of paper with intricate crease lines has also inspired him to produce crease patterns as wall art and ceramic plates.”

He has also echoed the shapes of origami in paintings and stained glass.

Find more of Sipho Mabona’s artwork on Instagram.