In conversation with

In Conversation With:


For today’s In Conversation With column, we have the pleasure to share with you our interview with the emerging contemporary artist JR CHUO. Read below to discover more about his intricate paper cut artworks inspired by the organised complexities of our society.
25th August 2021 | Image Curators Advisory
JR CHUO, Tozai Rush Hour Red Dot, 2021, Hand-cut paper, spray paint, acrylic pen, 102 x 102 cm. Courtesy: The Artist
JR you are an emerging artist who uses paper cut and spray paint. Can you tell us more about your art and what inspired you to start creating such delicate but intricate paper cut art?
I began paper cutting after a trip to Japan in 2015, where I came across 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 was traditionally used to dye cloth, often to print designs onto kimono. I was struck by the piece’s intricacy and the way that it was able to be both complex and subtle. I decided to try the technique for myself when I returned to the UK and was instantly taken by the range of possibilities present in paper cut art and the versatility of the medium.

I have continually developed my artistic practice since my first encounter with paper cutting and eventually landed upon contemporary abstract forms, which are more uncommon in traditional Japanese paper cutting.

From a young age, I have wanted to spread the message of climate change and its impacts on our planet. My organic forms and structures take inspiration from forms found on the surface of ocean coral and the complex nature of coral reefs. I aim to translate them into my paper cut work, by reimagining their intricate designs. My paper cut pieces are incredibly delicate and minor mistakes in the process can damage the artwork. I believe that my artistic practice mirrors the conditions needed for corals to survive; any change in the conditions can result in bleaching.
JR CHUO, Fluoro Pink Shibuya, 2021, Hand-cut paper, spray paint, acrylic, 120 x 120 cm, Courtesy of the Artist
I often find that the longer the paper cut piece takes, the more depth and emotion I am able to capture within the designs.
Your work is very detailed and colourful. What is your creative process like?
My process involves a number of stages. Firstly, I plan out the overall design of my paper cut piece and then I begin to hand cut small shapes into a large piece of paper. Depending on the size of the sheet of paper, my paper cut artwork can take between two weeks and two years to complete! My largest piece, ‘Shinjuku’ took nearly two years to complete on and off and the piece captures my ever-evolving paper cutting technique during this time period. I often find that the longer the paper cut piece takes, the more depth and emotion I am able to capture within the designs. I usually cut my pieces for a couple of hours every day alongside my university studies. I like to think that my daily experiences, emotions and thoughts are captured in the shapes and structures that I cut, manifesting themselves in a wide array of techniques and forms, from expressive paper cut shapes to miniscule intricate forms, and working together in one large seamless design. This seamless aspect of my work reflects the notions of oneness, unity and inclusivity; each shape is different, yet equally part of the wider structure and is equally responsible for the stability of the entire artwork.

I tend to use the initial paper cut piece as a stencil to create a number of vibrant spray paintings. However, I am limited to the number of paintings that I am able to create due to the delicate nature of the stencils. My use of fluorescent paint is inspired by the vibrant colours emitted by certain corals before they are bleached due to warming ocean temperatures.

I also use my favourite spray paintings to create digital versions of my designs, which I print and cut again by hand. I usually modify colours and patterns digitally and then cut into these pieces and mount them in three-dimensional structures, mirroring the layered structures of coral reefs. My recent ‘Mini CHUO Reef Collection’ consists of 16 of these layered artworks and highlights the tragic beauty of dying coral. I am fascinated by light and the way that it interacts with my work, and I tend to construct my layered pieces around this, by creating the space for beams of light to pierce through the paper and gaps for the shadows to settle.
Do you think you will be exploring and/or incorporating other mediums into your practice?
My practice is constantly evolving and this place of evolution is the main source of my passion. I love to develop my ideas, techniques and media with each piece that I create, and thus I am always open to new materials. Therefore, I will almost certainly incorporate new mediums into my art in the near future. However, paper is the central medium that I use and it acts as a consistent thread that joins my work together into one cohesive body.

Alongside the materials that I already use (paper, canvas, acrylic and spray paint to name a few), I am looking into the possibilities of paper installations at the moment, which may lead to the incorporation of a variety of new mediums and techniques, such as screen printing.

Each individual brings a unique perspective to the world and this should be reflected in art. The boundaries of art are limitless and, as artists, we should aim to challenge them with our work.
Who are your biggest influences?
I take inspiration from a wide range of artists and styles, ranging from the immersive works of James Turrell to the intricate paper sculptures of Nahoko Kojima and the thought-provoking work of Ai Weiwei. I am exposed to new artists every day via social media and I love to learn about the artists’ processes and techniques. I also admire the work of architects, such as Tadao Ando and Zaha Hadid, whose masterful manipulation of light and interaction with the surrounding landscape have influenced me profoundly.
Drawing from your experience as a young artist, do you have any advice to give other artists that are still struggling to take that first step in their career?
I believe that it is incredibly important to develop your own style, rather than simply copying everyone else. Each individual brings a unique perspective to the world and this should be reflected in art. The boundaries of art are limitless and, as artists, we should aim to challenge them with our work.
Where can we see and find more about your work?
You can check out my work on Instagram (@jrchuo), where I post my latest pieces and share behind the scenes photos and videos of my process. For further information about my work for sale, upcoming shows and exciting news, you can visit my website at
You can also find me on Saatchi Art, where some of my work is for sale.

In terms of upcoming shows, I will be exhibiting some paper cut pieces at the M.A.D.S. Art Galleries in Milan and Fuerteventura from the 9th to the 24th September and I will have some work at the Tokyo International Art Fair in Tokyo from the 8th to the 9th October this year (2021)!

If you would like to stay up to date with my latest shows, collections and projects, please sign up to my email list via my website’s homepage.
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 six 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.

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. | @jrchuo