Using just a sheet of paper, a pencil and a knife, artist Parth Kothekar creates designs of the most delicate beauty
Parth Kothekar cuts through a sheet of pure white paper with a surgical knife. His hand doesn’t hesitate as he makes precise cuts, creating intricate details — the delicate span of a dragonfly’s wings, the ruffled dress of a little girl, the flowing tresses of a woman, the spokes of a bicycle wheel. Parth’s paper-thin patterns have found quite the fan following on Etsy and Facebook.
In Parth’s own words, he hails from an “average middle class Marathi family; born and brought up in Ahmedabad”. “I was never a bookish guy,” Parth says. “After I completed high school, I enrolled in an animation institute but I dropped out as they stressed only on 3D animation while it was 2D art forms that interested me. During this time, I filled up my sketchbooks, and once I quit the animation institute, I began sketching full-time.”
Previously too, Parth’s notebooks at school would be filled with doodles, he calls them a “canvas for (his) sketches”. And his family was very supportive of his talent and ideas. “My mother has been painting ever since I can remember, perhaps I get the artistic trait from her. My family has influenced me immensely,” he tells us.
How did the transition from sketching works of art to cutting them out of paper occur? Parth shares that the idea emerged from his graffiti practice two years ago. “I pictured the stencils (I was using) to be inversed� I followed the idea and was fascinated. Initially it was a hobby; but once I had enough artworks, I exhibited them at the Kanoria Center of Arts in Ahmedabad, displaying 84 paper cuts,” he says.
To create one of his “papercuts”, Parth uses a 120 gsm paper, surgical knife and pencil. While he would initially need 3-4 days to finish one work, after two years, he can complete even the most intricate of pieces within 15 hours. His craft requires a steady hand of course, but that Parth picked up during his graffiti years, cutting out stencils. As for the rest — what to make, which paper to use, how to hold the paper, which blade to utilise — he picked up over time.
Every piece that he creates presents a fresh set of challenges. “To create a black artwork I have to visualise it in my head and work on it on white paper; so until the end — that is until I paint the papercut black — I am unsure of the final output. This is challenging both during the sketching stage and cutting stage because if I make a single wrong cut, I have to do it all over again. Also, shadow playing with light creates a three dimensional effects through the papercuts, this adds much more life to the artworks,” he explains.
Parth counts among his inspirations the German artist Bobsmade, who creates hand-painted, one-of-a-kind products. But nothing pushes him to create more than the uncertainty of what each of his pieces will look like after the final cut has been rendered.
As for what comes next, Parth says he is guided by intuition. “Anything that I feel like cutting, I go ahead with,” he explains. “I am experimenting with other possibilities for papercuts, like combining lamps and layers with it. I am pushing myself to try something beyond what I’ve already done. Making use of papercuts with modern machinery can bring out some excellent products, so that is on my mind too.”