Artist Eric Joisel began his unlikely career as a trained sculptor outside Paris. In his late 20s, however, he threw away every clay pot and chiseled carving and began to practice origami. Working from single sheets of paper - in a quest to transform two dimensions into three - Joisel's imagination sprang to life. Many of his greatest works involved coaxing intricate human portraits from paper: from furrowed brows and aged, careworn hands to elaborate costumes and artfully crafted faces. Considered one of the world's most gifted paperfolders, he created a body of work that only years ago would have been considered impossible. Tragically, his talent gaining international recognition, Eric Joisel passed away in France October 10, 2010 at age 53.
Coq (Rooster). 1995. 28 cm. Original square, 1.3m. Credit: Eric Joisel
Escargot (Snail). Early 1990s. Credit: Eric Joisel
Hippocampe (Seahorse). 1996. 32 cm tall. Credit: Lynton Gardiner.
Pangolin (Scaly Anteater). 2009. 50x40 cm. Credit: Origami House, Japan.
Joisel’s Pangolin figure shown flat to demonstrate fold complexity. 2009. Credit: Eric Joisel.
“Animals are a very common subject in origami. I create them with a high level of realism, trying to breath life into them. Using folding techniques like box pleating, animals with geometric forms — like snails, hedgehogs, and pangolins — seem especially attractive. Most of them are crafted into three-dimensional forms. For this, the choice of paper is crucial. After the folding is completed, I paint the origami with an acrylic fixative that gives the pieces a crisp surface and strengthens the form.”
— Eric Joisel