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Exquisite Geometry Sculpted From Paper, Not Stone

Layer by layer, a Spanish artist uses paper and geometry to calm her inner chaos.

Elena Mir is a Spanish artist from Valencia. She describes herself as “loving the smell of wet soil at night,” of having “eyes the color of honey and eucalyptus, and a lot of brown hair sprouting from her short head.”

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A dreamer, then. Yet with what mathematical exactitude her Geometric Spaces series arrays itself! A collection of intricately layered sculptures made out of paper, Mir’s work at first seems at odds with her fanciful way of describing herself. Every line is carved with stark Euclidean precision, yet the combined effect is somehow one of softness and comfort.

“I have always been passionate about geometry,” Mir tells Co.Design. “Geometry is the pattern of creation, the essence of the world around us. Geometry helps me to investigate the possibilities of space.”

Geometric Spaces takes the form of exacting patterns carved with meticulousness into hundreds of sheets of white paper, then layered on top of each other, like subtly differentiated dimensions in a multi-verse of Flatlands. Here is a time lapse video, showing off Mir’s process and the way in which each individual sheet of paper builds up into a sculpture, layer by layer.

If it seems strange that an artist who describes herself so whimsically works in a medium of monochrome, monotony, and measurement, Mir herself seems aware of the discrepancy. Her Geometric Spaces are very different in tone and technique to her other work in illustration.

“I consider myself a very chaotic person,” she says. “Working on something so solid and stable helps me move my mind into a state of relaxation. I find myself to be very disciplined when I work using this technique. It transmits an inner strength, a balance, and a harmony to me.”

For Mir, the soothing quality of her art comes from the deep relationship we all have with paper. “I’ve been very inspired by the role of paper in Oriental art and culture,” says Mir. “Paper is like stone; you can sculpt it, and create depth where there was none.” The words blank, stark, and white do not occur to Mir when she talks about paper. Reflecting her inner dreamer, she speaks of the grace and beauty with which “light and shadows slide across the surface.”

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“Paper is a beautiful material that has endless possibilities,” says Mir. Her work can be seen in person at the Only Paper exhibition at Valencia’s Rambleta Espai d’Art i Experiències running from October 10 to November 13.

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