Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Interview with Zambian Origami artist Rahim Pauwels


Rahim Pauwels is a 19-year-old Origami artist. He was born in Zambia, but grew up in Belgium. He moved back to Zambia in 2011 and has been living in Lusaka ever since.

Origami (from ori meaning “folding”, and kami meaning “paper”) is the art of paper folding, which is often associated with Japanese culture. In modern usage, the word “origami” is used as an inclusive term for all folding practices, regardless of their culture of origin. The goal is to transform a flat sheet square of paper into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques.


KAPA187: How did you become passionate about the art of origami?

RAHIM PAUWELS: I became passionate about it at a young age, 11 to be precise. While I still lived in Belgium, my parents went out for a dinner and hired a nanny to take care of us. She made an origami bird for my little brother. The following day I saw it and was absolutely fascinated by it so I searched for it on YouTube and learnt how to make it. I realised that I learnt it really quick and I enjoyed learning it and creating art from a simple piece of paper. That bird inspired me to learn more things and I loved it so much. I taught myself a lot of things through the Internet and books.

KAPA187: Do you consider yourself an origami “purist” (No taping, gluing, ripping or multiple sheets of paper) or have you established a flexible approach to getting figures done? 

RAHIM PAUWELS: Origami is the Japanese art of making sculptures by folding a square sheet of paper. The rules of Origami are ;

  • Start with a square sheet of paper
  • Do not use glue, tape or scissors
  • Do not decorate the model after it is complete

Most of my work is pure origami (respecting all the rules) though sometimes I do 3D origami, which is when I make a larger model with multiple pieces of paper.


KAPA187: What is the most challenging project you have worked on? 

RAHIM PAUWELS: I would say the most challenging things I have made are the 3D origami models. I chose this answer not based on the difficulty level but on the duration, some of these models may take up to a month to be completed. When I say a month, I mean literally working on it every day for at least 2 hours a day.

KAPA187: You recently exhibited some of your origami art at the Lusaka Comic Con. Where else have you exhibited and how has been the response?

RAHIM PAUWELS: I haven’t exhibited my work a lot; the largest place I have exhibited so far is at the Lusaka Comic Con. Everyone that came to my table was amazed by it. A lot of people asked me how I started and how long it took to make the models.


KAPA187: What future plans do you have for your work? Are there any particular projects that you are looking forward to?

RAHIM PAUWELS: One thing I have always wanted is the opportunity to make something that will be displayed in the Lusaka National Museum. Once I get this opportunity, I will make something larger and more beautiful than anything I have ever made before.


KAPA187: How popular is the art of origami in Zambia? 

RAHIM PAUWELS: So far I have not met anyone else that does Origami in Zambia. I will not say that I am the only one but I will say that we are in small numbers. Origami is not very popular in Zambia though I have hope that one day more people will be doing this beautiful and fun art.

KAPA187: How long would it take a novice to learn how to create origami art?

RAHIM PAUWELS: Origami is not a difficult thing to learn; it all depends on your passion and patience. A beginner would have to make the simplest things first but eventually will become better and be capable of making more complex things. I actually have taught Origami before at two schools (Rhodes Park School and Pinewood Preparatory School) as well as at an orphanage (Home Of David And Faith). Making your first Origami sculpture will take less than an hour, from there it will all depend on your interest in it. I like to say a journey of a thousand kilometers begins with one step.


KAPA187: Besides origami what other interests do you have? 

RAHIM PAUWELS: Well, I used to draw but I never really had the passion for it, I also taught myself guitar but the same thing happened, my soul wasn’t in it. Right now I am teaching myself Kirigmi and Quilling, which are both forms of art involving paper. I am not yet prepared to show my kirigmi or quilling to the public but I will upload them to my Facebook page (Simple Intricacies) when I feel it is the right time.

KAPA187: Any last words… 

RAHIM PAUWELS: Art isn’t only Painting, Drawing and Music. There are so many different types and forms of art. I believe that everyone is an artist and everyone should be willing to step out of the box and search for what type of art is best for them. For me, it’s Origami.

Here are some of Rahim’s Origami ark works:

View more Rahim’s Origamic ark work on his Facebook page Simple Intricacies




    • Mr tsk tsk. I humbly ask that your choice of words be revised because you yourself cannot do anything like this. It won’t hurt to humble yourself and sit down. I for one have taken so so much offence in this

  1. He is a very talented young man, I don’t see reason for hate… If you can’t say anything good how about we say nothing at all. ?

  2. Congratulations young man! Such discipline, precision and innovation is to be admired. All the very best as you apply these transferable skills within your life work!

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