My Early Paper Works

by Maksymilian Kapelanski

I. Original Communion (pour Véronique)

 

I made my first large piece of paper in 2001 from rejected materials. The creative process was of an organic-spiritual nature, from the careful choice and recuperation of the materials for recycling, to the dramatic transformative process including ripping the paper by hand and soaking it, and finally the slow emergence and drying of the end result. But this “original communion” was to suffer a tragic end. Due to a heartfelt misunderstanding as if taken straight from a Shrek movie, the sheet of paper got destroyed, literally ripped to pieces. Later in the night of the event I had a dream in which I could see the many pieces suspended in the air by an internal positive force, each morsel spiritually luminous and emanating a healing warmth. I was transported. Over the years, I realized the significance of this first work, which received its title - Original Communion (pour Véronique) - "posthumously".

 

II. Paper for the Canadian artist Adrian Williams

 

In 2002 I came into contact with a Canadian artist who was looking for handmade paper to use as material in his works. I was living in an apartment formerly occupied by a Japanese crafts artist who had been assiduously making soap and paper. Though all the fuses in the stove kept burning out from its former overuse in boiling the soapy concoctions, and the walls in the kitchen were covered in a greasy, soapy substance, the place had a special air of inspiration to it. I got right down to making recycled handmade paper for Adrian, and delivering it in batches by rackety bicycle to his apartment. Always spying on me from the apartment below was an old, very colourful woman with expressionistic make-up and a flair for early 20th-century fashion from Paris. She was more than curious, and I admit the paper making activity was a little suspicious.

 

III. The Character Tablet (for the Hospitalized Woman)

 

The craftswoman that formerly occupied my apartment had left behind some Japanese books, along with some wet cotton in Mason jars for making paper. As I myself was already producing paper for Adrian, I had the idea of turning the books into pulp. When I attempted this, I intentionally made the first sheet extremely thick and did not press the water out of the pulp. While initially the problems were molding of the pulp and folding of the drying paper, I finally achieved an interesting result: a very large, superbly thick paper, pretty much an off-white board, with an uneven texture and aleatorically distributed portions of Japanese characters.

However, this was the only paper that Adrian rejected, saying it was too specific to Eastern culture for his artistic use. When I left his apartment a little disappointed, I bumped into a photographer friend who immediately got interested in what I was carrying. He was inspired by what he saw, and bought the thick sheet, saying he would make a gift of it to a hospitalized female friend. I always wondered what she thought of it, and I hoped she felt the healthy, sturdy energy of Japanese ethos emanating from it.