Rock, Paper, Scissors – Recollections of St. Ives, 2020

The found book leafs upon which Hormazd Narielwalla has constructed his most recent series of paper collages are sourced from a 1906 tailoring guide by a Madame G. Schèfer, entitled Metodo de Corte y Armado. Translated literally from the Spanish – ‘Cutting and assembly methods’ – is an apt description of the artistic processes by which Narielwalla produces his highly distinctive images. In Rock, Paper, Scissors he now deconstructs an original book (found on a trip to Seville in 2019), to record responses to journeys he has made to St. Ives to visit the studio and garden of the artist Barbara Hepworth. Hepworth’s relationship with Cornwall was deep felt and enduring. Moving to St. Ives with Ben Nicholson in 1939 at the onset of the Second World War, she would remain living there for the rest of her life. A key figure in an international network of artists who were working with avant-garde principles of pure abstraction and particularly regarded for her direct carving and piercing of forms, Hepworth was nonetheless clear that the main inspiration for her work was ‘the human figure and the landscape.’ Art cannot exist isolated from life and she went further to explain that her thinking ‘was absorbed in the relationships in space, size and texture and weight, as well as in the tensions between the forms. The formality initiated the exploration … in which I hope to discover some absolute essence in sculptural terms giving the quality of human relationships.’ (Barbara Hepworth: Carvings and Drawings, 1952).

All artists must deal with the formal play of space, size, texture, weight, for these are amongst the most basic components of any kind of art practice but it is interesting to note how close the correlations are between the sculptor’s thoughts and Narielwalla’s, in relation to making abstract art that communicates something intrinsically connected to what it is to be human.

Seen in sequence, the 80 tiny collaged book-pages (18 x 11cm) that constitute Rock, Paper, Scissors, reveal the play of the artist’s thoughts. Book pages inevitably imply narratives and within their framework he has gathered together the threads of different continents, time lines, languages and art forms. Working with parameters defined by the original geometric diagrams, the overlaid collaged elements echo and pay homage to Hepworth’s sculptural forms. Cut ovoid apertures reiterate a signature element of the sculptor’s work as Narielwalla extends ideas about negative and positive space. A restricted palette suggests the materiality of marble or stone. Nuanced tones of grey, silver and blue (derived from Japanese woodblock and washi papers), are occasionally shot through with fragments of yellow or gold. Used in relationship, the papers’ colours, weights and textures describe the sculptural forms, whilst hinting at landscape, sky and sunlight.

The series takes its title from a children’s game that pits rock, paper and scissors against each other in a play of chance in which no one element can ultimately gain precedence. In this extended sequence of miniature art works, paper stands in for rock, just as an old suit pattern can represent a man.

Emma M. Hill
Founder / Director of the Eagle Gallery / EMH Arts, London

DOWNLOAD catalogue of original collage works and artist’s book - Rock, Paper, Scissors. CONTACT to enquire and acquire.

DOWNLOAD catalogue of original collage works and artist’s book - Rock, Paper, Scissors. CONTACT to enquire and acquire.