Intricate Folds Steal the Show in Matt Shlian’s Latest Paper Sculptures

What is most unexpected about his intricate, captivating, folded-paper sculptures, is that until he finishes them, Matt Shlian doesn’t know exactly how they’re going to turn out. 

Matt Shlian began by cutting up posters and folding them into works of art. Over the years of his creative exploration, he’s slowly started making more intricate sculptures of repeating forms and shapes. Recently even using color to accentuate the intricate folds that characterize his work. In each and every sculpture, he is guided by the piece. As he describes it in his artist statement, he begins with a “system of folding and at a particular moment the material takes over.” The result are works of art that mesmerize. All sharp lines and recurring patterns, they twist in front of your roving eyes, seeming to move even as their precise, carefully placed pieces remain as they were, static and beautiful.

While all of his work deserves attention, I’ll highlight two that stood out to provide a sense of what makes his work unique. 

Unholy 153, a work from 2019 featured on his website, is a forest of subtly shifting yellow in which dainty peaks play a symphony of misdirection, leading you to cast your eyes every which way, discovering subtleties and intricacies in what seems to be a simple repeating design. 


In Omoplata 5, what seems to be a four by eight block of uniform swirling peaks colored in a pleasing soft palate of gradient blues, pinks, and orange, turns out to be a collection of 32 distinct swirling forms that, together, contain an infinite depth of minute variation and major beauty.  

Check out his website for more examples of his stunning artwork, as well as a fascinating FAQ in which he provides a glimpse into his life, work, and artistic approach!


iBookBinding was granted permission to feature photos by Matt Shlian

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