Tag Archive | Hiding in the City

Liu Bolin’s A Colorful World? at Klein Sun Gallery

Mao Painting
Artist Liu Bolin Hides In the Face of Charmain Mao. Can You Find Him? (All Photos By Gail)

One of the most highly anticipated stops on our September 11th Art crawl was at the Klein Sun Gallery for the opening reception of A Colorful World?, a solo exhibition of new sculptures, photographs and lightboxes by China’s Invisible Man, Liu Bolin.

Orange and Blue Auditorium

A Colorful World? is a reference to the countless multicolored advertisements and consumer goods that cloud today’s understanding of oppression and injustice. Through lightboxes that speak to ideas of disappearance, detailed painted sculptures, and a continuation of his Hiding in the City series, the exhibition reveals Liu Bolin’s immense artistic versatility, as well as an expression of his revered perspective on global issues of culture, society and politics.

In Magazine
In Magazine

Through a masterful understanding of depth perception and intricate painting skills, Liu Bolin’s In Magazine stainless-steel sculptures camouflage a cast human face into the background of more than a dozen hand-painted magazines covers.

In Magazine

In Magazine

The works express Bolin’s thoughts on the loss of individual identity among an onslaught of commercial images like the ones found in magazines. His message suggests that as we consume these manufactured images, we begin to transform into that which we consume until we disappear into the images entirely and loose our individual identity.

Red Background with Gold Rivets

Similar in technique and philosophy, Liu Bolin’s renowned Hiding in the City series touches many of the same ideas and explores an even greater depth and range of subject matter, as Bolin paints himself into the background of carefully chosen scenes.

Hiding in the City - Pink and Green

Hiding in the City - Art No. 1
Hiding in the City – Art No. 1

Hiding In The City Meat Cleavers
Bolin Hides Among Rows of Meat Cleavers

In Junk Food No. 3
In Junk Food No. 3

The bright painted In Junk Food fist sculptures, covered in the packaging designs of snack foods, illuminate Liu Bolin’s comprehension of oppression. Previous works like his stainless steel Fist, and the massive 7-ton iron Fist outside of the Grand Palais in Paris, craft a powerful comment on the violence and overwhelming force of oppression through their scale and materiality. In this more colorful and psychologically terrifying iteration, the painted fists elaborate on a contemporary and widely unaccepted form of oppression existent today.

Junk Food Fist

Commercialized goods — primarily junk food in Liu Bolin’s eyes—mislead consumers into eating foods that incorporate carcinogens and ingredients that are harmful to the human body. The effect of these foods is frightening; according to the United Nations there are more than 35 million deaths per year due to diet-related illnesses like heart disease—which is astounding when juxtaposed to the number of deaths caused by cigarettes each year: 6 to 8 million. The bright and colorful packaging of these snack foods convey a lighthearted feeling of joy and happiness, but what they truly provide is hazardous to human health–all for the sake of financial gain. The In Junk Food fists reveal to viewers that colorful advertising is a vale for timeless modes of oppression that have plagued humanity for generations.

Security Check No. 2
Security Check No. 2

The life-size Security Check sculptures are cast from Liu Bolin’s own body, showing the artist with his arms raised—as if in a full-body scanner—and are covered in paintings of snack food packaging. They expand upon the messages of the fists, but in this form, reference a specific example of an unjust exchange that occurs daily.

Security Check No. 1
Security Check No. 1

Use of current full-body scanners in airports across the nation requires body language that mimics surrender; the use of these scanners then requires citizens to surrender their right to privacy—all for the illusion of safety. Despite these safety efforts, the air disasters of Malaysian Airliner MH370 and MH17, as well as Algérie Flight AH5017, in recent weeks prove the security check fails at its functional purpose. Much like the message of the fists, the colorful packaging washing over the sculpture speaks to the false claim that a security check is in fact a helpful procedure, and also ties in the idea of surrender to more commercial modes of oppression.

Security Check No. 1 Detail
Security Check No. 1, Detail

Liu Bolin’s A Colorful World? will be on Exhibit Through November 1st, 2014 at Klein Sun Gallery, Located at 525 West 22nd Street New York, NY 10011

Security Check Mirror

Eli Klein Presents: Liu Bolin Mask

Liu Bolin Ted Convention
Where Is Liu Bolin? (All Photos By Gail)

In the above photo, Hiding in California No. 1 – TED, you probably can’t see artist Liu Bolin, because he is hiding, literally, in plain sight. Let me give you hint of where he is:

Liu Bolin Ted Event Close Up

Holy Chinese Lanterns! There he is!

Also known as “The Invisible Man,” the Chinese-born Bolin’s most popular works are from his Hiding in the City series; photographic works that began as performance art in 2005. New photos from Hiding in Hollywood and Hiding in New York appear as part of Mask, Bolin’s latest solo exhibit at Eli Klein in Soho,

Hiding in California No. 2 - Hollywood, 2013

Hiding in California No. 2 – Hollywood, 2013

Bolin is able to hide within his photographs by  donning a suit of clothes painted to resemble the background and then simply inserting himself into the frame. Find him above by looking for the top of his head in the “W” of the Hollywood Sign.

Liu Bolin iPhones Close Up

 Hiding in the City – Mobile Phone, 2012

This shot (above) is a close up, so you can sort of easily see him among a wall of smart phones.

Liu Bolin Pier and Ship

Here he is in front of the Intrepid, NYC, 2012

Liu Bolin Cereal Boxes and Suit 2

In the gallery they also had on display the suit worn in a photo (not part of this exhibit) where Bolin blends into a wall of shelved cereal boxes. Very Cool!

Liu Bolin Graffiti Wall

Hiding in the City – Beijing Graffiti No. 2, 2012

Here’s another good one!

Liu Bolin Snack Masks

Since the exhibit is called Mask, it makes sense that there is also a selection of works inspired by traditional Peking Opera masks. The masks above incorporate the design and slogans of snack food packaging.

Liu Bolin Ten Masks

According to the exhibit’s press release, these masks “are symbolic reflections of Chinese society and its values. By recreating these masks using the advertising and labeling of popular food and drink products seen throughout China, Liu Bolin addresses the rapidly changing, highly commercialized values of Chinese society. By adding a necessary layer to these works — welding masks — Liu Bolin speaks to the dangers Chinese face in their contemporary society. With constant risk of food and drink contamination, living in China can feel as dangerous as working with molten hot metal.” So yeah, heavy.

Mask by Liu Bolin is a fantastic show and you should head on over to Eli Klein, located at 462 West Broadway (between Prince and Houston) New York, NY 10012 before it ends on July 21st, 2013!