Thursday, September 8, 2011

Liu Bolin: Hiding In Plain Sight


Traveling can be a great way to get some culture, bring home some souvenirs and generally get lost in a new place. For some people, traveling is literally a way to get lost in the crowd of buildings, monuments and posters. Artist Liu Bolin, a.k.a. the invisible man, has mastered the art of hiding in plain sight in order to produce his peculiar artworks.


Many of Liu Bolin's images have found their way on websites, blogs, chain e-mails and Internet memes. They are usually accompanied with headlines such as "Can You Spot The Difference?" or "Incredible Chinese Man Disappears In Paintings". Not a lot of these sites however offer a few words of background on Liu Bolin, the artist behind these amazing photographs.

Bolin is a Beijing-based artist now known as the invisible man as popularized in many posts floating around the web. Blending into his environment has also made him somewhat of a real life incarnation of the Where's Waldo? children's books. His first work in this series entitled Hiding in the City was inspired from how animals blend in using camouflage. It was also in response to the destruction of his studio in 2005 after the Chinese government ordered its demolition. The first image featured him standing in front of his ruined studio in the now familiar pattern.


His first works were then some kind of response to the government for repressing his and his fellow artists' work. Overtime, his invisible man artworks became representative of how he felt out of place in society, especially in his native China which didn't seem to appreciate his works many years ago.

As he gained fame over the web (which is of course the perfect gallery to display such oddities of the art world), he blended into other places aside from China including Italy, France and the USA.


In order to create his puzzles-in-plain-view, Bolin may stand in the same spot for up to ten hours at one time while his assistants paint over his clothes and body. His patience and his assistants' hard work pay off even before the shutter is clicked as passers-by often do not notice Bolin in the background.

While Bolin maintains his artworks as serious statements about art in society, it's nice to know that his images are able to captivate hearts and minds of Internet browsers for no other reason that the appreciation of the creativity and skill that went into making them.


Liu Bolin doesn't have his own website, which makes it harder to find more of this man hiding in plain sight, but fortunately many of his works from the Hiding in the City series can be found on the Ein Klein Fine Art Gallery website. For publications, you can pre-order his book Liu Bolin: Hiding in the City which will be out October 31, 2011, or you can get Stairway to Heaven: From Chinese Streets to Monuments and Skyscrapers, which collects some of Liu Bolin's invisible man images with those of other emerging Chinese artists.

19 comments:

Generally Disgruntled said...

These are super neat. Reminds me of that anti-drunk driving commercial I've been seeing recently. That dedication is awesome. And most people probably write it off as gimmick, not understanding the political meanings behind them. Too cool

The Angry Lurker said...

Takes quite a long time but very effective pics, quite stunning.

Fang said...

I've seen a time-lapse of that being done. Takes freaking ages to perfect it, but the result is glorious!

D4 said...

I've seen this guy before and have always been happy with his creations, but I pretty much knew nothing about him. It's amazing how he could stand for around 10 hours just to make a shot, that really seems so tedious!

Give Everything said...

i cant believe this, he's a fucking genious! amazing!!

Kid Shuffle said...

I remember seeing Liu do some similar works right before the Beijing Olympics. He is simply amazing

MRanthrope said...

WOW. As I read your post I impatiently wondered, "...but how does he do it!?!" so when I finally read that he stands there for so many hours my jaw kind of dropped.

Shutterbug said...

Awesome photos! I must have been living under a rock or something. This is the first time I've seen his work.

I am definitely appreciating the fact that I live in Canada and I am free to express myself!

Phil S. said...

So it's not really him I should be astonished with, it's his painters doing all the hard work?
"I'll just stand in place for 10 hours."
Sure, that can be difficult, but I'd hate to be the painters.

Wondrous results though.

GADAFINY said...

i like , great pic

Rifle said...

I wonder how much time took him to prepare himslef to this photos. Thanks for sharing:)

WOODLOUSE said...

Must have a lot of patience to stand there while being painted!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Absolutely genius. Some of those must have taken ages to set up.

A Heel in Mint said...

Interesting work. Looks like a puzzle. :)

Reilly said...

but...but... HOW???? these are amazing!!

r.alsharif said...

THIS IS FREAKING AWESOME!!!! :D Do you mind if I share this post on facebook/twitter?

tracirz said...

Thank you for giving us some background on these awesome pics :D

Damon said...

woow that is awesome :D
great post

Come At Me Bro said...

This is great!

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