INTERVIEW WITH PAOLO BASCETTA
Paolo Bascetta, graduated in mathematics in the Bologna's university and taught this discipline in the same city were was born.
For 40 years he has dedicated himself with great passion to origami, a creative hobby that he discovered through a book many years ago.
He has created original models published in many Italian and foreign books and magazine. Perhaps due to his scientific background, he prefers modular and geometric origami, simple but elegant at the same time but does not disdain figurative and complex origami at all.
Over these forty years, he has held courses and set up highly successful solo and group exhibitions. He has participated, as "guest of honor", in the conferences of the foreign national origami associations: USA, Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic, Holland, Israel, Japan and England. In 2020 he would be a guest in the USA (OHIO) and in Argentina but the Covid-19 pandemic prevented these two important events from occurring.
All images © courtesy of Paolo Bascetta
How did you approach the world of the origami?
In the 80s, when I was about 26, I was an entertainer in the summer camps by the sea and I was always looking for some new ideas, something creative to involve the kids; it was in that time that I found an origami book and started to get interested in this art form. Truly, it was not the first time I heard about it, a friend, Enzo Bonora, had already shown me some models some time before.
Did you have a teacher who teach you or did you learn on your own?
No, I didn't have a real teacher, I learned everything from books, they were fundamental especially at the beginning when I reproduced the models of others. But working alone, even if with good books, could not be enough, in this field as, I believe, in every field, it is the comparison that leads to growth and evolution. A friend introduced me to the Origami Diffusion Center, an association whose purpose is the spread of origami, and there I had the opportunity to compare myself with other origamists and to grow.
Where do you draw inspiration for your models?
It is difficult to say, the sources are different. For example, I have many boxes with models just started, unfinished or tests and sometimes it happens that taking someone in hand gives me inspiration for something new. Sometimes, on the other hand, there are photos, images that inspire me, I see something that strikes me and I think about the way to make it with paper; recently some drawings have inspired me. It also happened to turn a model upside down, and seeing it from another perspective, gave me the idea for a new project. Some models are variations of my previous models, some folds or joints between the modules change and a new shape is born. But I would say that at the base of everything, in my case, there is a lot of geometry.
In the common imagination, origami are figurative and represent animals; your works differ, have you always been attracted to geometric figures or have you also experimented a figurative phase?
I also made figurative models such as Giuseppe Verdi's face, a women's clutch bag, a sofa with cushions, but I have always found models involving the use of geometry more interesting and more congenial to me. The figurative models, at times, require a modeling work that requires a very personal component, whoever goes to approach a figurative model made by another origamist will be able to copy the model in outline but then it will be the modeling that defines the finished model and can never be identical. My studies, my training and my interests lead me to appreciate above all geometric models, it comes naturally to me; I have also created complex geometric models but lately I like to perform and create models with a succession of simple folds, within everyone's reach but with an aesthetically very pleasant result.
Is there a time of day when you feel the most inspired? When do you prefer to work on your origami projects? Do you start from schemes or do you make attempts directly on paper?
I am retired so I have a lot of time to dedicate to origami and create some new models. Sometimes it is necessary to make drawings that I create on the computer to roughly and quickly reproduce the final effect I have in mind, or preparatory calculations, for example, for the measurements of the sheets that often have particular starting shapes. In any case, the tests on paper that lead to the actual finished model are fundamental.
I know that you travel a lot for conferences where you are a guest, which country has left you a stronger memory?
I have been invited as a guest of honor to many foreign conferences. Each country obviously has its own strengths and interests but among all I believe that Japan has certainly represented a fundamental step. What struck me the most is that there are many young creative origamists. They approach this art form and compete with each other to improve and excel. I have seen animal models where the details of the body were cared with minuteness. After all, Japan is the homeland for excellence of origami
Which model do you feel most fond of?
The Bascetta Star is certainly the one that gave me the most satisfaction; it is known and appreciated all over the world as a model that is not difficult to make, very well thought out and whose joint is very robust. There seems to be a teacher in Germany who uses it in his geometry lessons. This is one of the aspects that most fascinate me about origami. The possibility of using them as a teaching tool. While we build folds, on the sheet of paper, we create lines, segments, points, angles, perpendiculars, parallels and thus we give the student the possibility to touch geometric concepts and appreciate their usefulness.
Can you tell us about the Transparency series?
Transparencies are particular origami. To make them you need some galassino paper or pergamino. I created models with single sheet and other modular models. Transparency gives a very interesting chiaroscuro effect. In "Inside Outside Star", for example, once the model is folded with a single sheet, there is a simple polygonal shape of sixteen sides with the respective radii. Looking at it against the light, however, you can see a four-pointed star inserted inside it!
How do you imagine the perfect exposure for your models?
I would say that I would like to exhibit all the works I have made, from the first to the last, also to show their evolution. It is a real shame that these models cannot be seen by many people and must remain closed in boxes. And this is the opinion of many friends who were lucky enough to see them live and not simply in photography.
And in the future?
In the future I see many more boxes of models to review ... and therefore many more models to create! In a more immediate future, on the other hand, I see my latest book that is quite ready: an origami book for the blind. It was a very special project. Explaining with words how to make a model is not as simple as it seems, not at all easy for those who have not seen from birth to bend a shape that they have never seen in their life. A very interesting challenge for both me and them!
What advice do you feel you give to those who approach this art form?
I believe that one of the aspects I love the most about this form of artistic expression is the fact that everyone can get close to it, you don't need many tools, paper, hands, a lot of patience and determination are enough, because without it, it is impossible to reach the final goal even if the model is simple. It is the third way of art. In painting, color is added to the canvas, in sculpture something is removed from the material used, in origami nothing is added or removed from the initial sheet of paper. It is simply transformed through the folds.