You’d never guess it by looking at her work, but Gunjan Aylawadi insists she’s an impatient person. Seeking access and immediacy, she took up paper as her preferred artistic medium. ‘I started paper cutting but soon realised it was going to take a long time for me to be any good at it; I needed to find a way of working with paper that was my own, one that allowed me to experiment and make mistakes without feeling like I’d failed miserably,’ explains the artist. In her search she stumbled upon her own unique paper curling technique. ‘I found the thread-like form and texture of paper strings interesting and started making two-dimensional paper tapestries,’ she adds.
Gunjan’s latest exhibition, ‘Place for Prayer’, brings together 12 new artworks, on which she’s been labouring for the better part of six months (12 hours a day!). ‘I really wanted to convey the feeling of being in a place that allows peaceful contemplation about life and self,’ explains the artist, who identifies as non-religious but enjoys visiting temples, mosques, and churches. ‘There is something about the beautiful architecture, art, relief work, colours, smells, rituals and ceremonies that makes me think about who I want to be when I leave; life feels like it’ll be changed forever just because I’ve been there and had the chance to think about my role in the world.’
Reflection is also granted through the creative’s arduous process. It all begins with an idea for 3D form, before working out the geometry of a base – no mean feat with curves and precise measurements to calculate! Guides are next sketched on canvas, a colour selection to enhance shadows is made, and out come the scissors. ‘I cut hundreds of paper strips, curl each one around a thin wire and glue it down to the canvas along the base geometry,’ she explains. ‘This process is both physically and emotionally demanding yet strangely calming and meditative.’
Compared to past shows, ‘Place for Prayer’ sees Gunjan’s work move into a third dimension. ‘This time I’ve tried to stretch the limits to give height and shadows, and create something that pulls viewers in and wants to be touched,’ she says.
From computer science engineer to paper artist, Gunjan is constantly pursuing her passion for creative projects. She’s fascinated (as are we!) that simple paper sheets can be transformed so dramatically. Her other case for creating with commonplace paper? ‘I am too impatient to wait for paint to dry,’ she jokes. ‘Paper sculpting, and experimenting with it freely, suits my temperament a lot!’