The Escape Artist: Liu Bolin

The Escape Artist: Liu Bolin

The Escape Artist: Liu Bolin

h5>Chinese Houdini, Liu Bolin, escapes (literally) into his statement art

Can you find the famous camouflage artist in these otherwise generic urban landscapes?

Consider it a grown-up version of the game “Where’s Waldo.” We were mesmerized when we stumbled upon photographs of this 30-something Chinese artist Liu Bolin, who insinuates himself ghost-like into complex urban and pastoral landscapes. It takes as much as 10 hours and two painting assistants for Bolin to blend into his environs, which are then documented via color photos. There’s no high-tech Photoshop or gimmickry involved, merely the craft of painting to create impeccable trompe l’oeil effects and a modicum of performance art. (Often casual bystanders are caught by surprise when the painted wall mural begins to shift and move!)

The way in which Bolin insinuates himself and disappears into his environments can be interpreted as a “silent protest,” according to the artist, for the way in which individuals and particularly artists are deemed non-entities in the eyes of the modern Chinese government. Indeed, in 2005 the Chinese government shut down Bolin’s artist studio and he was left rootless and dispossessed. Since then, the artist has been adopted by the international arts community at large and has created his disappearing acts against many of the world’s most famous backdrops such as St. Mark’s Square in Venice or the iconic red telephone booths of London, He even camoflauged some famous fashion designers (Jean-Paul Gaultier, Albar Elbaz, Angela Missoni, Valentino’s design team) for a recent Harper’s Bazaar shoot in the U.S.

The way in which Bolin melts into rows of soda cans at the Beijing supermarket might also be interpreted as an indictment of the way individualism gets lost in modern mass production and consumerism, while other portraits, taken in front of historical Chinese temples or scenes of urban blight, document the rapid development, not without pathos, of modern China. For more on this Houdini of the art world check out this link.


For more of Liu Bolin”s work, click the gallery slideshow below.

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