Imagine the paper snowflake doilies you may have made in grade school. Cutting out points on folded paper and unfolding it to reveal a repeating pattern. Now imagine that, on a 3d scale, and made by an adult with years of experience. Patrick Cabral of Manila has created large sculptures of animals made out of thousands of layers of cut paper. These breathtaking and pristine sculptures take him months to compete, and are stunning in their detail and shape.
Cabral uses black and white as his base colors, and other colors to highlight certain aspects of the animal, such as the eyes or items such as crowns (like the one on his five feet wide lion sculpture). Each piece of paper is hand cut, and layered on top of the previous one in order to give the paper depth and create the proper shape of the animals. This master craft of layering and cutting leads each animal to appear realistically 3D, and the shadows cast on them by lights amplifies this effect. Cabral’s side shot of a rhinoceros has depth and detail, with all four legs visible, and looking from the side would lead one to believe it was a fully made 3 dimensional model made of paper.
These crafts have a topographical design to them, appearing to have elevation and depth that reminds one of an aerial view of a mountainous landscape. The choice of white as the primary color for the sculptures also aids in the illusion of dimension, allowing light to play of the convexes and concaves of the objects. They are not abstract, and can be instantly recognizable as what animal they are, from his octopus and rhinoceros to the lynx and lion. The man has an amazing eye for detail, and truly can recreate the image of the animals as if he were a painter.
The shapes of the paper pieces are not meant to simulate a real visual of the animals skin and fur textures, but instead present elegant and intricate designs. The snowflake doilies come to mind as you view the larger sheets of paper that have been cut for body parts, including holes and shapes that add repeating effects. These patterns coincide with one another and maintain the visual effect of being a complete animal, repeating star shaped patterns on the rhinoceros’s torso also show up on its thighs, calves, and feet, creating a cohesive animal.
Patrick Cabral has an Instagram and a Behance profile where you can view his work. He describes his working process as being both meditative and stressful, a sentiment many artists would agree with. Cutting thousands of pieces of paper, and making sure they are positioned correctly on the layers already present has got to be mind numbingly monotonous at times, but the final product is always a satisfying presentation of the work put in paying off. Those paper snowflakes suddenly seem a little less stressful to maske, once you lay eyes upon the complete works that Cabral has created.