Nibha Sikander’s 3D figures of birds and insects are intended to draw attention to the wonders of nature. She tells Sonalee Tomar of ‘The Indian Curator’ how she was drawn to the art of paper-cutting.
Take us to the beginning of your story.
NS: I started cutting paper over 15 years ago and when I first started, it literally involved taking a single piece of paper and cutting it into abstract forms. This developed into more stencil-like forms using colored paper. Almost six or seven years ago, I developed this technique of laying paper from the top and adding thicker paper in-between, to add more body and make it more relief sculpture-like.
Tell us about the evolution of your practice over the years.
NS: I find that my work itself speaks to my commitment to paper. Each work takes me several days to complete and is a complete immersion in the paper, and the paper-cutting process, which has allowed me to reach this level of technical ability. I feel that paper has the ability to be flexible as well as stiff when required, which really does help me in the process of creating my various natural forms.
How do you deal with the conceptual difficulty and uncertainty of creating work?
NS: For my most recent show, the concept was clear very early on. Once I started with the birds, the moths and insects simply followed. Since I encountered these creatures every day it was much easier for me to observe, photograph and recreate them. Hence, I had the conceptual aspects mapped out for these particular series.
How does your audience interact and react to the work you put out into the world?
NS: People react differently to the materiality and the three-dimensionality of the works. The images online make the works appear to be flat, however upon seeing them right before your eyes, you are able to uncover the layers and appreciate the life-like appearance.