A timelapse video showing the transformation of Chinese artist Liu Bolin during his first UK performance at Saatchi Gallery.
Whilst the iconic photographic artworks by the artist are much acclaimed and collected, Bolin has often referred to his practice as a performance, yet curiously there is very little live exposure of these physical performances. It is this fascinating aspect of the artist’s oeuvre that was presented at START 2017 in a live performance, as part of the special projects programme.
*Project executed through former company Mehta Bell Projects.
Although this facet of Bolin’s work is rarely presented in public, it is the performative element that is truly at the heart of the artist’s practice and concept of his ‘invisible man’. As captivating as they are, his beautiful photographs are essentially documentation of Bolin’s laborious and physically demanding process. Very often it is misunderstood that his photographs are digitally manipulated to ‘blend’ him into his background. However in actual fact, what makes these artworks truly enthralling is that the artist has painstakingly posed right in front of his chosen backdrop, while his carefully directed team embark on the scrupulous task of gradually painting him in to the background, by hand and in situ. Over the duration of the art fair the artist will don his signature military suit, and the audience will witness the artist gradually ‘disappearing’ into the intricate Lego background brick by brick. His highly skilled team of painters will meticulously emulate the complex background, painting over the entirety of the artist, until he is completely camouflaged.
Liu Bolin was born in 1973 in China’s Shandong province and attended the prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 2001 and received a Master of Fine Arts degree. He is one of the country’s most acclaimed and established artists. Bolin’s practice has been influenced by the dramatic developments that have occurred in Asia in recent years and his series of photographs capture the fears, frustrations and the cultural, political and social issues that have gradually accumulated since the Cultural Revolution in China.