San Francisco-based artist Zai Divecha fashions countless pleats, creases, and flaps for her monochromatic paper sculptures. From geometric tessellations to flat sheets with dozens of rounded cuts and points, Divecha’s pieces accentuate the relationships between light and shadow and natural and manufactured elements.
Her inspiration is wide-ranging and includes “bathroom tiles, clouds, storm drains, the ‘skeletons’ of dead cactuses, peeling bark, raindrops on a car window, rock formations, ornate screens in Islamic architecture.” The artist also has woven data into her textured pieces, creating four artworks that represent HIV and AIDS diagnoses in San Francisco from 1992 to 2018. Each piece contains a series of cut flaps to visualize the number of cases.
In a statement, Divecha said her fascination with paper is derived from transforming an ephemeral, mundane substance into a permanent artwork. Only recently has she employed a single color. “The all-white palette allows me to create pattern and texture with just light and shadow alone, which feels soothing to me. I aim to create work that makes people feel centered, quiet, and focused,” she said. “I want my work to feel like a respite from an overstimulating world.” The move coincided with a switch in her personal life to limit her sensory input, meaning she forgoes fragrance and sets strict boundaries on the noises she consumes.