“The Little Paper Show”: The journey thus far

Five years after operating in the online sphere, the little paper is now on solid ground.

Last February 8, 2024, digital art platform Cartellino unveiled its physical space with its first in-person exhibition titled “The Little Paper Show”. The gallery is situated within Galerie Stephanie on the 6th Floor East Wing of Shangri-La Plaza, Mandaluyong City. 

According to creative director Tara Valencia, the gallery within a gallery design was deliberate to solicit surprise from visitors. While a curved wall bearing the Cartellino logo is viewable from the entrance of Galerie Stephanie, the area inside is not visible. 

“We don’t want to be too loud but we want people to be curious about Cartellino,” Valencia said in another interview.

Entrance to the Cartellino gallery space.

A cartellino may seem small, but it contained important details of Renaissance paintings, such as the artist’s name, date, and subject. This Italian term, meaning “little paper,” was the inspiration behind the name of the art platform. 

There is also a sense of delicateness in making a cartellino. This was not a paper per se; a cartellino was something painted in a realistic style that made it seem like there was a written paper attached to a painting. Having an intention to write in a small area is in the same way a careful act.

Since the beginning, Cartellino has aimed to embody the essence of this little paper. As written on their About page: “Cartellino is something similar, a supplement, for those looking to learn and engage with contemporary art. We draw attention to the little parts, a nugget of context, a nuanced response, to effect a thoughtful, timely nudge.”

Both the qualities of a cartellino and the goals of Cartellino have evidently manifested in its inaugural exhibit.  

How things are hanging.

The first work at the entryway aptly starts the show: Indy Paredes’s “Giant Wallbound in a Big White Empty Room” subverts its title and points instead to the potential of spatial limitation. While the gallery space and artworks are relatively small, the exhibit is anything but. With most works sized under or around the standard ruler measurement (12 inches as the longest side), more than 30 participating artists showcase how creativity knows no bounds. As the opening piece, Paredes gives a glimpse of this transcendence with his experimentation on media using limestone drippings on paper collage. Similarly, the work next to Paredes, Sher Cajucom’s “Feline” adds a dimension to archival paper by use of braille. 

“Giant Wallbound in a Big White Empty Room” by Indy Paredes (2024). Limestone drippings on paper collage. 7.7 x 11.31 inches.
“Feline” by Sher Cajucom (2024). Oil and braille on archival paper. 9 x 12 inches (unframed).

These two and the rest of the framed works are placed alongside each other, encouraging the viewer to follow the next one. Moreover, the smallness of the pieces beckons for a closer look. After years of curating for mostly online exhibits, Cartellino’s first show displayed how it could capably play with its physical space, crediting to the exhibit design of independent curator and Digest editor Francisco Lee.

Lined up ideas.

Adding variety to the presented framed works (and bringing lightness to the concrete surroundings), unframed paper pieces are propped on open shelves and hung on nylon strings at the center of the room. The left and right walls are balanced with works with frame and without. In the middle, strung-up papers cast soft shadows on the solid flooring. One of the seven hung papers – Mr. S’ “amongst nature” – also sneaks in a subtle contrast. With his acrylic on canvas paintings concurrently being shown at Galerie Stephanie, the relatively smaller proportion of his gouache on watercolor paper is pronounced.

A well-utilized space.

Moving to the farthest exhibiting wall from the entrance, another bestows a shadow: the frame and nested circles of Julieanne Ng’s “A paper at hand”. Coming towards the piece, the circles even have smaller circles made with ink and incense burn on Xuan paper. Nearby, Hannah Nantes’s “Needle Book” with a circular base component complements Ng’s intricately drawn and burnt paper work. Anyone who has sewed would find the object familiar; first with its size, then with the label “Happy ____” (the blank can be “Needle” or “Home,” or in the work’s case “Family”), paired with the imagery of three ladies. Nantes’s version of a needle book has ten hand-bound pages with variable rubbercut prints on Fabriano and Awagami papers. Except for ones bearing the “Happy Family” cover, each page has a hand and an entanglement of lines perforated by a single needle.

Exhibit view of “A paper at hand” by Julieanne Ng (2024). Ink and incense burn on Xuan paper. 13 x 10 inches (framed).
Exhibit view of “Needle Book” by Hannah Nantes (2024). Artist’s book, variable rubbercut prints on Fabriano and Awagami papers, with needle inserts, hand-bound, 10 pages. 5.75 x 6.75 inches (book size, spread) 10 x 10 inches diameter (mounted size).

Between the works of Ng and Nantes are framed pieces that seemingly touch similar themes on delicate labor and womanhood, namely, Eimi Suzuki’s “Bloom”, Jan Sunday’s “See.See.See”, Gianne Encarnacion’s “Let Your Love Grow”, and Selah Viee’s “care bear”.

A caring corner

The unframed papers farther to the right of “Needle Book” also form a cohesive placement. This open shelf is bookended by Ikea Rizalon’s “Underthinking” and Jamie Juantong’s “Universe I”, both twisting (hand embroidered and watercolored, respectively) and harmonizing in blues and oranges.

Some are more subdued in their styles, such as Lui Manaig’s “Hair Option 2 (Studies)” and Piyang Flores’s “I need you close (but not too close)”. The two paper works feature hands on their subject’s head – hands in Manaig’s that gently pinches, a hand in Flores’s that almost caresses.

Thinking outside the canvas.

Circling back to the curved wall at the entrance, Paulo Dinsay’s “Folded miniatures” supplies a fitting conclusion to the journey of the little paper so far. The paper collage was graced by a number of origami; except for a folded crane origami, all were drawn – a prominent boat, some small paper planes, and an angular flower. Cartellino is setting sail, flying ahead, and blossoming forth. “The Little Paper Show” is just a start.

“Folded miniatures” by Paulo Dinsay (2024). Ink, collage, and origami on paper. 11.7 x 8.3 inches (unframed).


“The Little Paper Show” is on view until March 3, 2024. You may join the Cartellino channel on Viber to view the catalog.


Lk Rigor is an art writer in the spheres of photography and archives, as well as the multiple strings that bind them to everything else.