You might know artist Liu Bolin by his outline. He paints himself to disappear into backgrounds, becoming a ghost-like presence in his images. (Watch his TED Talk, “The invisible man.”) It’s a trick of the eye designed to make a point. In his latest piece, “The Future,” he aims to raise awareness about the United Nations’ Global Goals. The Global […]Continue reading
Why you should listen
Artist Liu Bolin began his "Hiding in the City" series in 2005, after Chinese police destroyed Suo Jia Cun, the Beijing artists' village in which he'd been working, because the government did not want artists working and living together. With the help of assistants, he painstakingly painted his clothes, face, and hair to blend into the background of a demolished studio.
Since then, the so-called "Invisible Man" has photographed himself fading into a variety of backgrounds all over Beijing. Spot him embedded in a Cultural Revolution slogan painted on a wall, or spy him within tiers of supermarket shelves stocked with soft drinks. Just as with Bolin himself, the contradictions and confusing narratives of China's post-Cultural Revolution society are often hiding in plain sight.
What others say
“Bolin's work is part of a growing movement of conceptual art from China, much of which reflects social and economic change.” — The Independent, 1/31/11
Liu Bolin’s TED talk
The image above is classic Liu Bolin — the artist painted exactingly to blend in with the scene behind him. (Watch his talk from TED2013, “The invisible man.”) But if you look closely, you will see that the man in the picture is not actually Bolin—the tell-tale Ray-Bans reveal that this is JR, the artist […]Continue reading
Liu Bolin’s images invite a game akin to Where’s Waldo?. In some of the Chinese artist’s incredible photos, it’s clear where he is standing; in others, like the one above, it’s much harder to spot the outline of his body at all. It’s for this that Bolin has been called “The Invisible Man.” In today’s […]Continue reading