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Handicraft Artist


Handicraft Artist


JR CHUO is a contemporary paper cut and spray paint artist based in the UK. CHUO cuts all of his designs by hand, creating intricate paper artworks. Although CHUO is only 18 years old, he has been paper cutting for over 6 years, during which time he has continually perfected his practice. Despite the precise nature of CHUO’s work, his designs are often expressive, containing a myriad of fascinating leading lines and shapes that capture the viewer’s attention. Paper is often viewed as a simple base material, but CHUO’s work highlights the medium’s complex inner structure and unique beauty. Each individual paper-cut shape is different and thousands of these shapes work together in harmony to form large seamless designs.

One of the central ideas behind CHUO’s work is the notion of façades in society that conceal harsh realities. CHUO takes inspiration from the organised nature of urban subway maps and the simplification of metropolitan areas, which conceal the complexity of the areas they represent. He believes this concept is also present in the way our societies and governments deal with the environment. CHUO explores the impacts of climate change on coral reefs, juxtaposing this message with the vibrant colours that he uses in his work. In addition, many of CHUO’s artworks are named after Japanese subway stations and lines.

CHUO’s artistic process is labour intensive, requiring deep focus on the present moment. Cutting all of his designs by hand, one small paper cut piece usually takes several weeks to complete. However, CHUO uses his paper cut pieces to create a wide range of artworks, from spray paintings to digital versions of his designs. Thus, each individual paper cut piece generates a wide array of possibilities for CHUO to experiment with.

CHUO’s interest in paper cutting began during a trip to Japan in 2015, where he saw a traditional hand cut ‘ise katagami’ design in a ‘ryōkan’ (traditional Japanese inn) in Kyōto. ‘Ise katagami’ is the Japanese craft of making stencils and is used traditionally to dye cloth, often to print designs onto kimono. Struck by the piece’s intricacy, CHUO decided to explore the medium himself upon his return to the UK. He initially focused on architectural designs in his paper cut work, but soon moved onto figurative work before finally arriving at abstraction. His abstract shapes have taken years to perfect and he says they are constantly evolving.

With a diameter of almost 2 meters, CHUO’s largest paper cut piece, ‘Shinjuku’, took around 2 years to complete and captures his ever-evolving paper cutting technique over this time period. This piece was selected by Saatchi Art as one of their ‘Curator’s Picks’ for The Other Art Fair London in July 2021, where CHUO recently exhibited some of his latest work. The patterns found in CHUO’s pieces are largely inspired by organic forms found in coral reefs and his bright colour palette takes inspiration from the striking colours emitted by certain corals before they are bleached by warming ocean temperatures as a result of climate change. CHUO aims to capture the ‘tragic beauty’ of dying corals in his work, by creating striking designs, often using fluorescent colours to draw attention to the intricacy of the artworks. However, CHUO hopes that people feel optimistic when looking at his vibrant work and that his pieces encourage an appreciation for the beauty of corals and the versatility of paper.

The endless possibilities arising from CHUO’s original paper designs enable him to continually evolve his practise in new and exciting directions. This can be seen in his new hand-cut ‘Mini CHUO Reef Collection’, which uses one of his original paper cut designs to create striking layered artworks. These mini pieces expand on the ideas present in his large, ‘Fluoro Purple Reef’, an abstract piece representing a coral reef in the process of being bleached.

CHUO always considers the way in which light interacts with his work, building his pieces around this concept and he often photographs his work at sunrise, as the soft light complements the striking colours in his art and creates subtle shadows.

JR CHUO’s recent collections of smaller artworks are designed to work well individually or in groups to create unique displays. The variable nature of this collection is a theme that runs through much of his work.

‘Paper Cuts In Perspex’ is a collection of hand-cut paper artworks suspended in fluorescent acrylic, which refracts light to emit a stunning glow that illuminates the surrounding environment. Since releasing this collection in 2020, CHUO has been using clear acrylic more frequently in his work, as this enables him to focus on the colours of the paper cut pieces and explore how these colours interact with the wall behind them. Moreover, the clear acrylic gives the viewer the impression that the paper cut pieces are floating in the air. CHUO is currently working on a new collection of framed acrylic pieces, which will retain the impression of flotation in his work, but also sit neatly within a deep frame.

In addition, CHUO recently exhibited his work in London, at The Other Art Fair in King’s Cross and the Brick Lane Gallery in Shoreditch. CHUO will be exhibiting his work next at The Tokyo International Art Fair in October 2021. In the future, CHUO plans to continue exhibiting his work across the globe, spreading his important message and encouraging an appreciation for the tragic beauty of dying corals and the versatility of paper.


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