A gigantic paper tree with shlokas inscribed on it; a paper model of the rotating sun that pays homage to the supreme power; an empty room with mirrors for walls and a ceiling covered with paper sculptures, collectively depicting the cosmos—the recent body of work by origami artist, architect, and landscape designer Ankon Mitra (40) at the India Art Fair 2022 introduces the viewer to what can be called ‘peaceful chaos’. Through thought-provoking artworks featuring spaces and objects that are both calming and stimulating, the spectator is forced to ruminate the idea of existence.
Mitra rightly terms his works as ‘In the Forest of the Mind’. Presented by Lado Saraibased Gallery Art Positive, this series comprises seven works of paper sculptures by the Chhatarpur- resident, each prompting the observer to think of their mind as a forest packed with “sights, sounds, and smells”, hence highlighting the close interconnection between humankind and nature. “Ankon is as good an artist as an architect. What prompted me to show his work was the concept; the ethos behind the show. His works have a story to tell that is inspiring and people can connect with it,” shares Anu Bajaj, director, Gallery Art Positive.
A unique art practice
Mitra’s work remains at the intersection of art and architecture. The folds predominantly used in his works have been inspired by the Japanese practice of origami (the art of paper folding), which is further augmented using architectural principles. “I feel I create works of architecture rather than works of art,” shares the graduate of School of Planning and Architecture, IP Estate. Mitra identifies volume, space, and structure in the sculptures he creates.
The product is often a life-size installation with folds through mediums such as paper, metal, concrete, wood, terracotta, and more. He calls this distinctive style ‘Oritecture’ (origami + architecture), a term that refers to “creating 3-D shapes and forms by using folds”. Given the spatial nature of his installations, Mitra usually commences crafting these pieces after looking at the space he plans to display at. “It isn’t like you enter a booth and just place the artworks around.
The space comes first and then comes the work. For instance, for this exhibition, we specifically had to create a niche, which would act as a placeholder for this tree [talking about his artwork titled ‘Shloka Vriksha’].” Mitra creates art keeping in mind what he is moved by— nature, mythology, and the cosmos are recurring themes in his work.
‘In the Forest of the Mind’, the artist explores questions surrounding nature and mythology through his signature style. In a work titled ‘Mastishk Vriksha (The Brain is Tree)’ he depicts how the brain is a lot like a tree. In a nutshell, the series by Mitra delves into Indian mythological texts, and uses them to remind the current generation of the harm being done to nature.