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Harikrishnan Panicker and Deepti Nair

Hari and Deepti are storytellers known for their intricate paper and light projects.

Isle of Gold

Over the years, the couple has learned how to work with paper to find the right balance of light and shade.

Journey to the Deep

The art pieces come alive once they are lit and new details are emphasised that can’t be seen in its unlit state.

Layers and Depth

The couple’s work introduces literal depth to imagery, giving the impression that you enter the artwork as you view it.

Nautilus

Inspired by Jules Verne`s classic "The twenty thousand leagues under the sea".

This is Where I Belong

Combining 3D and 2D aspects, this piece focuses on perspective.

Looking into an Image

The piece moves with the viewer and changes as they adjust their eye-line.

Isle of Gold 2

Sections with fewer paper layers seem to glow within the artpiece.

Sugar Factory Installation

Inspired by the couple’s travels in Taiwan.

Material Drawbacks

As far as materials go, paper is rather temperamental and reactive and is affected by weather and humidity.

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Showcase 11 Dec 2018

Storytellers Hari and Deepti create fairytale like scenes with layers of paper and light

Mumbai-based artists Harikrishnan Panicker and Deepti Nair aka Hari&Deepti are storytellers known for their intricate paper and light projects. Inspired by their travels and anecdotes they picked up along the way, the duo creates sculptural and three-dimensional illustrative works entirely out of cut up pieces of paper. Their work (particularly when lit up) takes on a fantasy or dream-like quality and has garnered international attention. Join CQ for a glimpse into their paper world and how it all started.

Faced with the challenge of creating a piece of work within a day for a charity event, artists Hari and Deepti were pushed to working with paper to try and meet this commitment. Armed with some watercolour paper and a shadow box, they created a paper diorama as their first paper-centered work back in 2010. After getting several positive reviews, they quickly realized that they had chanced upon an unexplored channel for their creativity.

Harikrishnan Panicker and Deepti Nair

Hari and Deepti are storytellers known for their intricate paper and light projects.

Isle of Gold

Over the years, the couple has learned how to work with paper to find the right balance of light and shade.

“The couple’s work introduces literal depth to imagery, giving the impression that you enter the artwork as you view it.”

The choice of paper is dictated by how it reacts with light. Typically, white paper that gives of a yellow hue when backlit is used for a majority of the works, though if a piece requires it, coloured paper can be incorporated. Different types of paper are used for different effects, the results of which can be clearly seen in certain works such as “Nautilus” where translucent tracing paper is used to give a school of jellyfish a soft appearance.

Journey to the Deep

The art pieces come alive once they are lit and new details are emphasised that can’t be seen in its unlit state.

The art pieces come alive once they are lit and new details are emphasized that can’t be seen in its unlit state. The number of layers also dictate how much light comes through. Sections with fewer layers seem to glow within the artpiece. The couple’s work introduces literal depth to imagery, giving the impression that you enter the artwork as you view it. They mention, “It moves with the viewer as they change their eye-line and that creates a sense of dynamism that traditional illustration styles lack.”

Layers and Depth

The couple’s work introduces literal depth to imagery, giving the impression that you enter the artwork as you view it.

Nautilus

Inspired by Jules Verne`s classic "The twenty thousand leagues under the sea".

A Signature Look

Hari and Deepti have also developed a surreal signature aesthetic with works that look like something out of a folklore-inspired dream. They explain, “Our work usually has an open narrative. Open to interpretation.” This quality has lent itself to several commissioned projects including book cover illustrations. The pieces tend to “fan out” into more layers and details from the illustrations core while plants and animals appear textured with cut out spots, stripes, and specks.

This is Where I Belong

Combining 3D and 2D aspects, this piece focuses on perspective.

Looking into an Image

The piece moves with the viewer and changes as they adjust their eye-line.

Challenges Transporting Paper

Hari and Deepti’s works have been featured in various galleries around the world. They’ve also created large-scale installations in landmark buildings such as AIGA headquarters in New York and the Mall of Emirates in Dubai. Transporting these works is sometimes challenging given their weight and volume. As far as materials go, paper is rather temperamental and reactive. Previously, a project in Taiwan had to be extended as the country’s humidity was around 98% rendering the otherwise stiff papers, soft and cloth-like. Tackling these challenges, and making sure the work stayed intact in any weather are facets of this artform that were learnt through trial-and-error.

Isle of Gold 2

Sections with fewer paper layers seem to glow within the artpiece.

Sugar Factory Installation

Inspired by the couple’s travels in Taiwan.

The couple currently has an exhibition till February 2019 at the Alexandria Museum of Art in Louisiana, USA. Some of their works are also on display at Art Basel Week, Miami.

Check out Hari and Deepti’s paper creations on their website, or on their instagram.