Can you see him?
Well, if you can’t see him now or haven’t seen him before, there’s probably a good reason for it. Born in Shandong, China, in 1973, Liu Bolin graduated from the Sculpture Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. However, work was hard to find after school, and after authorities in China shut down his Bejing art studio in 2005, Liu decided to use his art as a protest.
“The situation for artists in China,” he says, “is very difficult and the forced removal of the artist’s studio is in fact my direct inspiration of [one of my] series of photographs, Hiding In The City.”
Liu observes that “I experienced the dark side of society, without social relations, and had a feeling that no one cared about me, I felt myself unnecessary in this world.” Instead of taking it sitting down and finding another kind of work, he decided to stand up and show the world that artists were a necessary and important part of society. “From that time, my attitude turned from dependence into revolting against the system.”
Why does he do it? ”My work is a kind of reminder, to remind people what the community we live in really looks like, and what kind of problems exist.”
Most of these photographs take up to ten hours to create — for just one photo! First, he chooses what scene he wants to disappear into, and then with the help of assistants, he meticulously paints himself to match the background. I don’t think I could ever stand still for that long, much less with paint all over my body. The accuracy of his position and the paint placement is just incredible!
“Some people call me the invisible man,” he says, “but for me it’s what is not seen in a picture which is really what tells the story.”
Check out one of his paintings in progress:
It’s pretty incredible that Liu Bolin can use his art to make such a powerful statement. Do you think his work will be able to effect change for experimental artists like him?