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Paper trail: French artist creates a flat forest

Trash man: Artist Herve Tullet will debut his show “This Isn’t Trash” at the Invisible Dog Art Center in Cobble Hill on March 4.
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He’s a paper back painter!

The French illustrator of the famous interactive kids’ book “Press Here” has created a multi-sided forest of cut, torn, and painted paper in a Cobble Hill gallery for his first New York City exhibition. Artist Herve Tullet says that “This Isn’t Trash,” opening at the Invisible Dog on March 4, extends the themes of his book by exploring the potential of paper in all its forms.

“The theme of my books is ‘What is a book,’ because it’s always a question about what is a book. I play with the book, I play with where you turn the page,” said Tullet. “So from the first drawing I began to think about playing with the sheet of paper and so started — not to draw, exactly — but more to cut, to crumble, to fold, to bend, to rip.”

Tullet’s folded, spindled, and painted-upon creations vary from small scraps to 8-foot-high broadsheets, all hanging from the ceiling of the gallery so that audiences will be immersed in the art. As people move among his new artifacts, Tullet hopes they will appreciate the various perspectives, shapes, and sizes without thinking too much about what they mean.

“I’m really happy that I can hang the stuff and present my work because nobody has seen these. It’s really something new. It’s a way to look at,” said Tullet. “I hope that my small pieces of paper will give a way to look, to observe, to look around, to understand the simplicity.”

Seeing the beauty in simple things is how Tullet came up with the show, taking scraps from his trash can and turning them into art, he said.

“Very simple things could be very interesting if you look carefully at them,” said Tullet. “The start of my exhibition was my garbage because I put paper on my garbage but then take back the paper and create some pieces.”

And although Tullet’s book is marketed towards tots, he said that his show — and his book — is not age-specific.

“To me there is no difference,” said Tullet. “So many books are related to what is supposed to be a children’s book, filled with animals that are talking, and my work is not really related to what is supposed to be the children’s field. I don’t try to play with children as they are children, just consider them as human beings.”

“This Isn’t Trash” at the Invisible Dog Arts Center [51 Bergen St. between Boerum Place and Smith Street in Cobble Hill, www.theinvisibledog.org]. Opening reception March 4 at 6 pm. On display through April 15, Thu–Sat, 1–7 pm, Sun, 1–5 pm. Free. The show is part of the city-wide Tilt Kids Festival: www.tiltkidsfestival.org.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:12 am, March 2, 2017
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