Mesmerizing Memory Paper: A Pioneering Art Form
Japanese artist Tetsuya Nagata’s paper art, while novel, is deeply rooted in centuries of tradition.
“My designs are a collection of many symbolic figures that express feelings and experiences aggregated across time and space.”
A ride on the elevators of the luxury hotel Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills is no ordinary experience—it’s like ascending to new heights of contemporary beauty. The exquisite work of Japanese artist Tetsuya Nagata hangs on the walls of the hotel’s five elevators, inviting you to be transported to another world, even just for a while.
Nagata is known for creating the new artistic technique he calls Wagashi Zanmai or “memory paper,” which combines the two traditional Japanese art forms of Washi—the delicate handmade traditional paper used for origami—and Wagashi, the art of making ornate sweets traditionally given at celebratory events. Yet, instead of filling the intricately carved wooden Wagashi moulds with sugar, Nagata places handmade Washi paper inside. This results in three-dimensional characters that come alive—exuding personality, spirit, and wisdom.
For instance, one of the artworks found at the Andaz Tokyo hotel elevator entitled Where the Mantis Dwells depicts nature’s cycle of life—at its centre are flowers from all four seasons in full bloom. “Below the flowers is a swimming carp, and above them is a leaping carp. The composition is a polarity between the water and the sky,” Nagata says.