A large-scale door installation made from layers of laser-cut plywood.

All images © Gabriel Schama, shared with permission

Through a process of meticulous design, laser-cutting, and layering, Gabriel Schama creates incredibly detailed reliefs from thin plywood (previously). His work has focused on symmetrical, mandala-like forms with countless undulating patterns, and in recent years, he’s begun to explore more narrative themes, placing figures and objects into fantastical compositions. In new works, otherworldly birds careen in a flurry of feathers, a bottle of potion roils, and a hanging unit on a wall doubles as a holster for a sword.

One major project that took Schama several months to complete was a pair of panels installed on monumental doors. “The real feat was figuring out how to break the design down into smaller pieces, hiding the seams between the panels in the lines of the design and making the whole thing foolproof for some team of people on the other side of the world to install,” he tells Colossal.

 

A wall relief of a potion bottle made from layers of laser-cut plywood.

“Potion of Dreams”

Over the past few years, Schama has experimented with different colored stains to enhance the compositions but struggled to find results he was happy with. Then, he unexpectedly stumbled upon new techniques and now incorporates varying hues. He says, “I have an old bias towards not obscuring the inherent qualities of the wood, hence sticking to ‘natural’ wood tones for so long, but I have become pretty obsessed with this really vibrant purple pigment I just found.”

Schama has been working on a large chapel- or temple-like structure, with Burning Man in mind. “Every time I’ve posted images of the scale maquettes I’ve made, people go out of their way to offer their help building it,” he says. The artist is also producing smaller pieces to be released as numbered editions this fall. You can follow Instagram for updates, and explore more work on his website.

 

A wall relief of two birds made from layers of laser-cut plywood.

“Bridge of Birds”

A wall relief pictured in the studio made from layers of laser-cut plywood.

“DJ Booth”

Two images side-by-side. The left-side image shows a wall relief made from layers of laser-cut plywood. The right side shows a man holding a sword made from layers of wood.

Left: “Chapel of the Lilies.” Right: “Thorn and Fang”

A wall relief made from layers of laser-cut plywood.

“Tension and Release”

A wall relief made from layers of laser-cut plywood.

“Prince of Thunder”

In Fantastical Laser-Cut Plywood Reliefs, Gabriel Schama Revels in Elaborate Details

Detail of “Prince of Thunder”

A wall relief made from layers of laser-cut plywood.

Installation view of “Thorn and Fang”

Two panel reliefs made from layers of laser-cut plywood.

Door panels prior to installation

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