In his large, mesmerizing sculptures, Matthew Shlian draws inspiration from origami, kirigami, and papercraft.
Paper sheets are transformed by artist Matthew Shlian into stunning three-dimensional tessellations. The paper sculptures created by Shlian feature repeated folds that give them life.
The pieces are often characterized by spikes jutting from flattened surfaces and the individual elements are arranged in giant waves that move across the whole piece. Until recently, Shlian’s works were black-and-white. His portfolio still features vivid hues, but he has since incorporated other colours. A technique such as colour marbling gives the smooth paper a personal touch.
A formally trained artist, Shlian’s focus initially was ceramics, though it didn’t last. Throughout his childhood, he had an innate curiosity for everything. In addition to glass, painting, performance, and sound, he finished his studies with a dual major in ceramics and print media.
He began to reverse engineer pop-up books when one of his instructors began buying them for him.
His love of paper only grew from there, and he has incorporated this interdisciplinary philosophy into his art, which continues to inspire him today. The work I make is driven by curiosity; I must make it in order to understand it.
Matthew Shlian creates 3D paper sculptures that transform ordinary papers into hypnotic tessellations.
“I loved the immediacy of paper as a medium. Figuring out the pieces was like solving a puzzle. I understand things spatially; I have to see something to make sense of it.”
Originally from Alfred University, Shlian currently lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan (he taught at the University of Michigan for eight years). A ceramicist at heart, he quickly realized his interests extended to all kinds of art, including glass, painting, sound, and performance. Even though he double majored in ceramics and print media, he wasn’t exactly producing traditional print or ceramic work.
Shlian has never really examined the work of many paper artists. He admires people like Paul Jackson, Noriko Ambe, and Robert Lang, but is not directly influenced by them. Aside from solar cell design, he looks to proteins, Arabic tiles, systematic drawings, architecture, biomimicry, and music as sources of inspiration.
Check Out: The Most Famous Sculptures