Artistic paper cutting
According to the historical sources, the art of paper cutting had been born in the East countries. Later on it had spread through the whole world. In many countries this branch of art has old traditions. The disadvantage of artistic paper cutting is that it is made from a nondurable material - paper. Naturally, it is one of the reasons, why there are precious few ancient works remaining.
Many nations used paper cutting for the decoration of their home for a long time. National attributes of one or another nation in paper cuttings had been very distinct: the motive of “the tree of life“, ornamentation, symbolism, etc.
Paper cutting work had been started in Lithuania in the 16th century. Paper cuttings were especially popular for decorating the interior of homes at the end of the 19th century – during the first decades of the 20th century. Townspeople and particularly village people used to adorn kerosene lampshades, shelves, the frames of paintings and mirrors with paper cuttings. Paper cuttings with more complex ornaments - curtains had been used to decorate windows and sideboards. Special paper cuttings with silhouettes of birds, horses, apples, bells and others had been created for wedding and for decorating the seats for newlyweds. An accurate paper cutting art, coming from the past, in today’s art environment most commonly retains the same archaic and natural plastic expression and geometric ornamentation of folk art.
The content of artistic paper cuttings has been developing continuously. The technique of paper cutting has improved, they have become more various and their content has become more profound. It is evident in the works of Lithuanian artists J.Daniliauskienė, N.Jurevičienė and others.
From the composition viewpoint paper cuttings can be manifold. That depends not only on the personality of an artist, but also on the content, work technique, its type and purpose.
According to their external appearance all paper cuttings can be classified into three groups: symmetric, asymmetric and composite. Furthermore, paper cuttings can be “positive” and “negative” (mirror).
Artistic paper cuttings differ greatly by paper colour: they can be unicolour (single tone) and particoloured (both in the form of appliqué and specially painted).
The cutting methods, materials and tools, used by the artists of artistic paper cuttings are interesting. The tools most commonly are scissors and special cutters. Ornamental works are usually cut using scissors. In order to make such paper cutting, the sheet of paper is folded twice (for double cuttings), quadrupled (for quadruple cuttings) and folded in eight layers, by cutting all layers at the same time.
The technique of artistic paper cutting using scissors is relatively simple, though it is also miscellaneous. The more complex cutting is made using special cutters, razors and chisels. While cutting with scissors artists seldom draw the required drawing in advance. In the second case an advance drawing is necessary.
Talking of Lithuanian paper cutting art it can be said that a distinctive national school of this branch of art has been formed, the originators of which were J. Daniliauskienė and N. Jurėnienė. In their creative work and works of other paper cutting artists’ the rich world of inner senses is being unclosed. The artists apply various methods of paper cutting. The content of their work is miscellaneous and topics are varied, however the stylization of the primary motive “arbor vitae” is more preferred. In their symmetric paper cuttings elements of flora and fauna often mingle into one whole, where a distinctive attribute is endless fantasy and vitality.
The search for new means of artistic expression and even technique possibilities predominates in the modern Lithuanian art of paper cuttings. Besides interpretation experience of traditional ornaments of applied art, during the last two decades paper cuttings of visual art have formed, among which tendencies of decoration spread rapidly.
New authors step on the path of creative work with the outlook on the world of their own generation, they search for their own approaches on the possibilities of paper sheet and gradually move away from the original sources of the folk art and look for support in the depths of classical academic art. Some of modern Lithuanian artistic paper cuttings are manifold, having spatial view and its perspective. The essential characteristic of paper cuttings is the graphics of their image, which is determined by the changed purpose of paper cuttings and their work techniques. They came close to the visual art. These are pictures of various formats – landscapes, still-lives and ornamental compositions. The creative work of the recent years shows the increased professionalism of the artists of this art branch. We face the relationship of an individual artist and the folk art. Their creative work, in comparison to the creative work of the artists of the older generation, does not always have strong connections with the folk art. And it is natural, since this branch of art in Lithuania has been of applied nature. The artistic signs of Balts art are evident in it, and the segments of traditional ornaments reveal the nature of ethnical décor and discriminating taste of the nation.
The first republican exhibition of paper cuttings has been organized in Vilnius in 1981. Thirty authors exhibited their creative works at this exhibition. The fifth republican exhibition of paper cuttings has also been organized in Vilnius in 2003. There were two international exhibitions organized, there were books published, the last one ”Lithuania in paper cuttings” („Lietuva karpiniuose“) was published in 2003 (compiled by F. Marcinkas). The books have been represented at international book fairs in Frankfurt, Moscow, Warsaw and Vilnius.