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Ever won­dered how to re­use toi­let pa­per rolls, in­stead of sim­ply dis­card­ing them? Well, Paris-based artists Anas­tas­sia Elias and Ju­nior Fritz Jacquet have found cre­ative ways to trans­form them into whim­si­cal minia­ture uni­verses and cap­ti­vat­ing face masks.

From a mother and child ob­serv­ing gi­raffes at the zoo and rock climbers scal­ing a moun­tain, to cou­ples danc­ing and li­onesses jump­ing through hoops in a cir­cus, Anas­tas­sia’s multi-lay­ered, three-di­men­sional Rouleaux dio­ra­mas re­pro­duce scenes from na­ture and ev­ery­day life, which, when back­lit, draw your eye, as the char­ac­ters and ob­jects are brought to life.

As for Ju­nior, who has been pas­sion­ate about pa­per from an early age, fold­ing and crum­pling tech­niques are in­no­vated to create ob­jects in­spired by the tra­di­tional art of origami – re­sult­ing in a di­verse col­lec­tion of masks pre­sent­ing in­trigu­ing faces of fic­tional char­ac­ters.


A self-taught il­lus­tra­tor, painter and col­lage artist, Anas­tas­sia cre­ates nar­ra­tive art­works that al­ways tell a story, whatever the medium. Draw­ing in black ink, she uses a pen and her fingers, with her fin­ger­prints form­ing gra­da­tions of grey and shad­ows. For her torn col­lages, she ma­nip­u­lates pages and frag­ments ripped from mag­a­zines, pack­ag­ing and other printed pa­per, start­ing with large pieces of pa­per and pro­gress­ing to smaller pieces to fo­cus on the de­tails.

In her mixed me­dia col­lage ex­per­i­men­ta­tions, some are cut with scis­sors and a box cut­ter and some fea­ture gouache or black ink.

In her on­go­ing Rouleaux series, she cre­ates mi­nus­cule scenes in­side toi­let rolls by care­fully af­fix­ing tiny pa­per cutouts to the in­ner sur­faces at vary­ing depths, us­ing manicure scis­sors, a box cut­ter, glue and tweez­ers. She shines a light through them to form shad­ows and sil­hou­ettes. The pa­per shapes are in the same colour as the toi­let roll to give the il­lu­sion that they are part of the roll, with each art­work re­quir­ing two to three hours to craft. In her cre­ative process, com­ing up


with a con­cept takes the most time, while the re­al­i­sa­tion of the piece takes the least.

She says: “I some­times have fun re­claim­ing waste ob­jects. What I like about re­cy­cling is its abil­ity to fuel cre­ativ­ity. You have in your hands an ob­ject you are about to throw away, or you dis­cover on a side­walk, next to a garbage can, some­thing that no­body wants. You look at this ob­ject and sud­denly an idea pops into your head, or at least you have an in­tu­ition.

“One day my eyes fell on an empty toi­let pa­per roll. I won­dered if I could do some­thing with it. Thus the Rouleaux series be­gan. This work is in­spired by ev­ery­day life, by the peo­ple who sur­round me, by the cities I visit, by the movies I watch... In other words, I am in­spired by my en­vi­ron­ment.

“As of­ten when I’m work­ing, I com­pleted the first roll at night. Once I’d fin­ished it, I moved it to­wards my desk lamp and then dis­cov­ered a play of shad­ows in­side. The light pass­ing through the roll cre­ated ef­fects I didn’t ex­pect... It’s im­por­tant to me that the el­e­ments do not en­croach on one another and that the scene cap­tures the light in the best pos­si­ble way. Not all sub­jects can be rep­re­sented in a roll. The scene must be con­cen­trated, while spread across the length of the roll with its dif­fer­ent el­e­ments. The more small el­e­ments, the better the ef­fect.”

Born in 1976 in east­ern Rus­sia and raised in the Ukraine, Anas­tas­sia stud­ied French lan­guage and lin­guis­tics then jour­nal­ism at univer­sity, be­fore mov­ing to France in 2001, where she started work­ing full-time as a book il­lus­tra­tor. She has ex­hib­ited in France, Italy, Por­tu­gal, Hong Kong and Sin­ga­pore, and her works have been so well-re­ceived that she even pub­lished Rouleaux, an art book fea­tur­ing 67 of her pa­per sculp­tures made be­tween 2009 and 2012 – through more than 150 pho­tos and 28 sketches.

She states: “I be­lieve that the role of an artist is to en­gage the viewer, to pro­voke a re­ac­tion, a thought, an emo­tion. In any case, that’s my goal. As for my mes­sage, most of­ten I don’t aim to con­vey one – it’s use­less some­times. Each per­son per­ceives things ac­cord­ing to his or her per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence.” She is work­ing on 32 il­lus­tra­tions in gouache and acrylic rep­re­sent­ing imag­i­nary bank notes for a book of po­ems by David Du­mortier en­ti­tled Achete, Achete, Achete, which will be pub­lished by Edi­tions Mo­tus in France this year.


Ju­nior was fac­ing a bleak fu­ture as a teenager in a group home, af­ter en­coun­ter­ing prob­lems with the law. One day in a li­brary in Saint-Ouen, he be­gan fold­ing pa­per out of bore­dom, and be­came cap­ti­vated by the art of origami. This tech­nique was born in the 2nd cen­tury in China shortly af­ter the in­ven­tion of pa­per, be­fore be­ing im­ported to Ja­pan then Europe.

“I grew up in an en­vi­ron­ment where there was no space for art,” he notes. “I started to become in­ter­ested in origami at the age of 14. It was a very prompt in­ter­ac­tion with origami, and I un­der­stood quickly that you could go far, start­ing from only a sin­gle sheet of pa­per.

“I con­sider my­self to be some­one who likes to feel close to the ma­te­rial. I use it as a means of ex­pres­sion to de­velop and give shape to ex­pe­ri­ences, to tell the be­gin­ning of a story. Then it is up to each and ev­ery one to con­tinue it. There is, I think, a large dream­like el­e­ment to the pa­per char­ac­ters and the ob­jects that I create.”

Hav­ing learnt the art of pa­per-fold­ing in Paris, the self-taught artist is today in­flu­enced by the smell, tex­ture, thick­ness and pos­si­bil­i­ties of pa­per, and his work tells sto­ries through dif­fer­ent types of this most or­di­nary of ma­te­ri­als. Whether us­ing stan­dard pa­per, wax pa­per, silk pa­per, toi­let pa­per rolls or card­board, he draws in­spi­ra­tion from his sur­round­ings – such as a small plant fight­ing for life.

Us­ing only his fingers as tools, he picks up a piece of pa­per – which may be of dif­fer­ent colours and sizes – and be­gins fold­ing, crum­pling, creas­ing and modelling, al­ways abid­ing by the prin­ci­ples of origami: one sheet, in one piece, no glu­ing and no adding on. The piece of pa­per be­gins to take shape, giv­ing birth to faces, bod­ies and move­ments, and in­ter­acts with light, un­der­lin­ing tired eyes in masks or the fragility of a co­ral flower.

Ju­nior says: “My love for na­ture is an im­por­tant in­flu­ence. Cer­tainly be­cause it is closely linked to pa­per, the ba­sic ma­te­rial of my work. Vege­tal, full of life, var­ied, rich and flour­ish­ing, na­ture is the very im­age of pa­per; it can be just as flex­i­ble, mal­leable and in­fi­nite as it is un­ex­pected and sur­pris­ing when you ma­nip­u­late it. Pa­per is a ma­te­rial as sur­pris­ing in its fragility as it is com­plex in its prop­er­ties like weight, tex­ture, elas­tic­ity, ca­pac­ity to ab­sorb light, colours and even hu­mid­ity, as well as its mem­ory when folded or crum­pled.”

Orig­i­nat­ing in 1997, Ju­nior’s masks are hand-sculpted out of a sin­gle toi­let pa­per roll us­ing orig­i­nal fold­ing tech­niques he de­vel­oped him­self, which is then coated with nat­u­ral pig­ments and lac­quer. No glue or ex­tra pa­per has been added. Each re­quires three or four hours to create, and their highly ex­pres­sive faces re­mind you of close-up por­traits, draw­ing you in to their sto­ries and re­al­i­ties.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tions of joy, sor­row, anger or fa­tigue, they re­flect real hu­man emo­tions and states of mind. He com­ments: “I am aware that each pa­per has its own ‘per­son­al­ity’, prop­er­ties and sen­si­tiv­ity. I choose the pa­per de­pend­ing on the type of model I would like to make. For ex­am­ple, my masks, which are cre­ated from toi­let pa­per rolls, are the re­sult of more than five years of re­search. I first con­cen­trate on the con­struc­tion of the eyes, then the nose, the mouth and the gen­eral ex­pres­sion.”

Born in 1979 in Haiti where he spent the early years of his life, Ju­nior ar­rived in France with his two sis­ters seven years later, where they were re­united with their par­ents. In 1994, he took a be­gin­ner’s class in pa­per-fold­ing that al­lowed him

to become aware of his abil­i­ties in this art, un­til then prac­tised with a tech­nique that his in­stinct dic­tated. That led him to meet the tal­ented Vincent Floderer in 1999, who ac­com­pa­nied him in his evo­lu­tion and be­came his men­tor, and with whom he founded Crimp (In­ter­na­tional Re­search Cen­tre for Folded Sculp­tures) a year later, where he ac­quired a crit­i­cal per­spec­tive and rigour in his cre­ative work.

In 2013, the jury of the Liv­ing Trea­sures of Arts and Crafts of France awarded him a spe­cial men­tion. He par­tic­i­pates an­nu­ally in the Masters of Origami, a pres­ti­gious in­ter­na­tional en­counter of origami vir­tu­osos, and his works may be found in the per­ma­nent col­lec­tions of the two most im­por­tant tem­ples of pa­per­fold­ing and origami in the world: Gallery Origami House in Tokyo, Ja­pan, and Mingei In­ter­na­tional Mu­seum in San Diego, USA.

Ju­nior states: “I don’t like to force pa­per to fol­low my tech­nique. I pre­fer to adapt my tech­nique to pa­per. In my work, ex­per­i­men­ta­tion with pa­per and re­search are com­pul­sory. For my masks, I take the time to ex­plore the toi­let pa­per roll.

“The ex­pe­ri­ence of fold­ing this type of ma­te­rial is very in­ter­est­ing be­cause my fold­ing tech­nique is forced to adapt to the card­board, as it is too re­sis­tant to be able to do what you want with it. With each mod­i­fi­ca­tion of the card­board, you are wit­ness­ing the cre­ation of a new char­ac­ter.”

Ever the in­quis­i­tive artist, Ju­nior cre­ates a uni­verse out of pa­per for his minia­ture fig­ures. His pieces tell an on­go­ing story of the lives these pa­per fig­ures lead, re­flect­ing the depth of de­tail that ex­ists within Ju­nior’s imag­i­na­tion too.

He adds: “My work of­fers a gate­way to­wards the imag­i­na­tion, a voy­age that hasn’t reached its con­clu­sion. As a re­sult, to touch my au­di­ences, I con­sider that the pa­per that I use and trans­form is just as im­por­tant as my ex­pe­ri­ences and sen­si­bil­i­ties. Pa­per car­ries its own uni­verse that I must lis­ten to.”


TOP Ma­te­ri­als used in the mak­ing of the pa­per art.

TOP The lines and in­dents on Ju­nior’s fin­ished mask are in­spired by the nat­u­ral tex­ture of the pa­per.

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