Paper aesthetics at Yuchengco Museum

Paper aesthetics
By Walter Ang
August 16, 2010
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Paper, and the many forms it can take, is celebrated in Yuchengco Musuem's current exhibit titled "Pumapapel: Art in Paper." The exhibit features the work of seven artists, artisans, and designers who explore paper in a range of expression.

The exhibit is prologued in the interior of the elevator: the walls are covered in cross-sections of paper pads. When the doors open on the third floor, visitors are welcomed by an explosion of paper stones hanging in mid-air.

The installation, "Suspended Garden," was created by Tes Pasola and Tony Gonzales. Arranged in a circular pattern anchored by a mat of rolled up newspapers, guests are encouraged to walk through a swath in the middle of the dangling stones and to lie down on the mat to view the work from the floor.

This composition allows for other vantage points (say, looking down at it from the fourth floor balcony or circling it from the sides) and is a wonderful endeavor that plays with texture, shape, perspective, scale and mass, given its realistic looking stones that float just so, its nylon strings that create the illusion of one rigid column, and the play of small elements that comprise the immense whole.

Different characteristics
Pasola repeats the installation's convention of using detailed rudiments to build a larger scaled piece in her exhibited works. Affiliated with Movement 8, the Filipino design advocacy group, and a consistent Katha Award winner, she showcases the density of paper with broad cross-sections of tightly coiled paper strips.

Gonzales, on the other hand, mirrors the installation's aspect of shape and form though paper infused with leaves, wires and seeds, then molded into wide sheets with funneled eruptions.

The couple has been working as paper artists and paper-based product designers for decades. When approached by the museum to exhibit, they open the floor for other artists to join them.

Printmaker Pandy Aviado, a pioneer in the use and production of handmade paper in art, has collages that call to mind decoupage.

Japanese designer and papermaker Wataru Sakuma plays up the fibrous element of paper by crisscrossing pulp strands (no cutting involved) that have dried into delicate-looking spiderwebs, beehives and a street map of Manila.

The works refuse to conform to the idea that paper is something that has to be flat or whole.

Sakuma has an installation, "Storm," that uses floor-to-ceiling sheets of hole-ridden paper against a light source to showcase the material's ephemeral nature.

Sculptor Impy Pilapil, who often works with stone, stainless steel, and glass, captures motion and volume with pleated strips of colored paper positioned in curves and waves.

Joey Cobcobo combines his passions in painting, printmaking and woodcarving to create a series of paper bowls titled "Sungkaan."

Art can also be useful, the exhibit seems to declare. After all, the artistic use of fibers from abaca, salago, cogon and raffia has made Philippine-made paper unique, particularly in paper crafts, Christmas decor, gifts, and novelties for the global market.

As it turns out, fabric can also be created from handmade paper threads. Master papermaker Asao Shimura has assembled samples of the fabric called shifu (via dyed kimonos and scarves) as well as the implements involved in making it. Books no bigger than the palm of your hand are also on display from this miniature book artist who makes paper out of piƱa fiber.

Also on exhibit are limited edition calendars created by Gonzales and Pasola with German designer and artist Inge Brune for the German gifts and home accessories company Hartmut Rader Wohnzubehor GmbH & Co. The latest calendar, "Spirit of Paper," earned a gold prize at the 60th International Calendar Show in Stuttgart, Germany earlier this year.

Paper can also be used as medium of/for instruction. Students from the School of Fashion and the Arts taking up advanced draping under the mentorship of Iskra Orendain have created couture using paper in silhouettes that range from Victorian England to Old World Filipino.

The exhibit ends with another interactive component, "Paper Play," where visitors can tap into their inner artist and create their own paper art.

To complement the exhibit, the museum will offer a series of public programs such as workshops and family art activities. Topics include paper crafts for people of all ages, handmade papermaking, and international design trends in paper.

"Pumapapel: Art in Paper" runs until November 6, 2010. Yuchengco Musuem is at RCBC Plaza, Ayala cor. Buendia Avenues, Makati City. Call 889-1234 or visit

Also published online: