An origami portrait of a woman.

All images © João Charrua, shared with permission

“There is something mysterious and magical about masks,” says João Charrua. “A mask intrinsically carries an energy with which we identify in some way. They are like portals to our imagination.” Through carefully planned and meticulous folds, the Portugal-based artist models human faces from single sheets of paper, crafting delicate noses, expressive brows, and angular jawlines.

Charrua began exploring origami around 13 years ago, when he was looking for a pastime to share with his daughter. He started researching contemporary practitioners and was fascinated by the level of detail that could be achieved. “Origami requires rational and sequential thought, where each fold goes to form part the whole, and they all have to come together to produce the final result,” he says.

Before creating the final piece, Charrua often makes “sketches,” or three-dimensional drafts, which allow him to visualize specific features and make changes before starting on the formal model. He says, “I believe that by repeating the process many times, certain gestures, folds, or techniques become routine acts, so that a natural creative process develops, underlain by the subconscious.”

See more of Charrua’s work on Instagram, where he often shares photos of his process and preparatory studies.


An origami portrait of a blue face or mask.

An origami mask.

An origami mask.

An origami portrait of a square face.

An origami portrait of a demon-like creature.

An origami portrait of a woman.  An origami bust.

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