Upon a first interaction with Japanese artist, Kuniko Maeda’s organic sculptures, you are confronted with assured forms that appear to grow from nothing. They echo the elaborate fungi found in rich jungle ecosystems and their sentiment is not so distant. Paper cards are Maeda’s material of choice, an overlooked, often immediately discarded object, found in abundance today. The soft kraft browns allude to the sculptures’ material composition, however, the scalloped edges, folds pouring out in expanding waves, and organic, yet assured shapes elevate this unappreciated everyday material.
One cannot help but think of Origami and its manipulative qualities when faced with the intricate folds and undulating surface of Maeda’s sculptures, and the use of traditional techniques is a concern of the Japanese artist, however where Maeda differs from her historical counterparts is her embracing of modern technologies to further this ancient craft. Maeda is concerned with the material processes of art making and is influenced by her specialism in sustainable textile design and Japanese traditional woodcarving, in particular the life cycles in Japanese culture and religion.
Paper techniques © Kuniko Maeda via Instagram
Integrating the flexible, concertinaed properties of paper, Maeda’s sculptures sometimes drape themselves over furniture or sit proudly independent of support. Regardless of their nature, the intricate interlocking cells are designed digitally before being laser cut and painstakingly assembled with each element having its specific position. The result is a juxtaposition of a precise and engineered process in contrast to the organic and naturalistic forms produced that appear almost liquid in nature.
Whether they are small table-top objects, or large dominating growths from antique furniture, Kuniko Maeda’s sculptures take you on a narrative journey from material sourcing to conception, a transitionary evolution which is echoed by the surfaces she creates. They are the metaphorical Möbius Strip of the paper bag, a single sided material, manufactured with a single use, transformed by a new life cycle that brings them to life.
Leyden Gallery is proud to represent Kuniko Maeda. Find a selection of her works here