Origami -- the art of paper folding, turning it into a finished sculpture through intricate techniques is both wonderful and a daunting task that takes hours of practice and patience. However, Japanese origamist, Akira Yoshizawa, was so well versed in the intricacies of the paper-folding technique that he is considered to be the grandmaster of origami, and is credited for raising it from a mere craft to the celebrated art form it is today.
The author of around 18 books, which showcase several hundred of his designs, was awarded the order of the Rising Sun by Emperor Hirohito, in 1983, which is one of the highest honours to be bestowed in Japan.
Coming from a humble background, it is believed that Yoshizawa self-taught origami and then rekindled the passion for the paper art in his early twenties. Tasked with teaching junior employees geometry in the factory where he worked, Yoshizawa turned to the traditional art of origami to understand and communicate geometrical problems.
The origami artist who left his factory job to pursue a full-time career in origami in 1937, spent the next 20 years selling a Japanese condiment called tsukudani, while perfecting his skills.
Yoshizawa-Randlett system, a type of origami was established by the artist in 1954 in his monograph Atarashii Origami Geijutsu, and his first international exhibition came in 1955. It was organised by Gershon Legman.
Interestingly, Yoshizawa never sold his origami instead he gave them as gifts to people or lent them to organisations for exhibiting. One of the artists biggest contributions to the genre was wet-folding. The process involves slightly dampening the paper before making a fold. This allows the paper installation to be handled in a far easier manner, giving the final paper installation a more rounded and carved look.
While he created and practiced many origami techniques, he is most well known for his pioneering technique of wet folding which provides a certain fluidity to origami art.
For his contributions to the ancient art of origami and his time spent in the military, Yoshizawa received the Order of the Rising Sun, which honors Japanese citizens for great contributions to society, in 1983 from Emperor Hirohito.
The famed artist breathed his last on March 14, 2005 from complications due to pneumonia. Akira Yoshizawa died on his 94th birthday.