By Poonam Goel
11th July 2012 10:45 AM
As children, most of us have played with paper and scissors and created a world of our own imagination — paper planes, boats, dolls and much more. In Sachin George Sebastian’s hands, however, paper becomes a medium for creating objects of fine art.
Born and brought up in Kerala and having graduated from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, Sebastian is now based in Delhi and has been working with paper for the last five years, exploring its form both visually and structurally. He dabbles in freelance graphic design work, while working on a few self-initiated ideas like pop-up books for children.
Sebastian remembers that paper always held a great attraction for him. “Paper always took a form maybe even before I was in high school. While hunting for a job after graduation I came across a pop-up book in a second hand book store in Bangalore which I fell in love with and my friend bought it for me.”
That was just the beginning. The artist decided not to take up a full-time job and took to freelancing to get more time to work with paper. “It took me a few years to make the paper structures stand and close properly, but the need to push the material beyond a pop up spread went deeper. So I just kept cutting paper and it just hung on the walls wherever I lived,” he says.
While Sebastian continued to experiment within his chosen medium, it was not until he worked in a residency at Khoj Studios in Delhi that his first brush with fame happened. The work he did at Khoj, titled How Long? How Far? was an attempt to showcase the change in the landscape around him as he moved from one place to another — Kerala, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Jaipur, Delhi and Gurgaon. “I used a paper roll to showcase the unknown journey ahead. The work appeared like a seismograph that has a plain line at the beginning and as the landscape heads towards urbanity the wave gets more irregular and increases in height and finally falls down flat only to roll up at the end.” The work was an attempt to question for how long landscapes are going to be fractured in the name of development. “It was also a question to myself and to the people around — for how long are we going to operate within these spaces.”
In 2010, a private gallery in Delhi, Exhibit 320, noticed his work and offered him a group show. Cutting paper just got more serious for him from then on. In one of his recent works at a show in the same gallery he used a stack of newspapers to create the connection between text-based artwork and paper. “Almost completely covered with text, newspapers cover stories happening all around us. The second thought is how the entire city wakes up with it, getting affected by the written word in some way or the other. These multiple stories keep getting stacked at the corner of a room. Many stories disappear half way through until someone new digs it up. They keep getting stacked in layers like the buildings we see, the buildings we live in and which keep growing like these stacks. My work is about this very first thought, a feeling that engulfed me while looking through these multi-story bombardments of text which was lying right next to that cup of tea.”
As a graphic designer, Sebastian has worked on a few customised paper engineered invites, products, a television commercial for a mobile phone company, stall design and environment graphics. In one of his pop-up books, based on the Ramayana, the stories were stitched around cards that would open up and collapse as one opened a page.
It is such work, and the stories, inherent in them, which children in India need to grow up with.
(Poonam Goel is a freelance jour- nalist who contributes on visual arts for unboxedwriters.com)
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