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LIU BOLIN THE INVISIBLE MAN ON VISIBLE SOCIAL ISSUES

Clara Algisi Siqueira on "Gun Rack", 2013

Liu Bolin is a Chinese artist known as "The Invisible Man". The artist camouflages himself and hides in landscapes or objects. His projects usually express commentary about important social issues.

Liu Bolin began working on the concept of camouflage in 2005, after the demolition of his studio in Suo Jia Cun, an area with a large community of artists, by the Chinese government. To protest against the lack of consideration towards the artists, he had himself photographed in different areas of the city after having made up his make-up so as to be practically invisible.

The "Gun Rack" performance took place at Eli Klein Fine Art in New York, where Bolin was assisted by a team of four painters, camouflaging him into a wall mounted with weapons. This new work was motivated by a law in China that requires individuals to present identification and registration when purchasing certain knives. He is planning on creating another “invisible” portrait featuring a sword and knife as well.

My opinion

In this project Bolin chooses a thorny issue: international weapon polices. He tries to shed light on weapon control methods across the world.

Aronne Bellini on "Hiding in the city - Marine Litter, Surfrider 02", 2017

Since the beginning of his career, ecology has been a central topic of Liu Bolin’s artistic production. This work doesn’t need any comments... Liu Bolin has created it with a specific purpose: to denounce the multinationals involved in environmental pollution. Plastic litter is the background of this work.

My opinion

Multinationals make money at the expense of the environment. Liu Bolin highlights the connection between corrupt politics and economy, whose consequences are paid for by the environment.

He calls for respect and protection of the environment.

Laura Bellini on "Mobile Phone", 2012

Mobile Phoneby Liu Bolin shows a variety of mobile phones regularly disposed in a space.

Liu Bolin is known as “The Invisible Man” because he disappears into the background in his ‘camouflage’ installations. The artist paints his entire body to exactly match the scenery behind him. He is camouflaged so well it is almost impossible to spot him.

He began using this technique when the Chinese government destroyed his atelier.

My opinion

Liu Bolin hides himself among the phones because he wants to point out that people are more interested in technology rather than in other people or nature.

Riccardo Bellini on "Hiding in the City, No. 16-17 , People's Policeman", 2006

My opinion

In this work the artist aims to draw attention to important social and political issues: freedom, politics and censorship. I think that Liu Bolin wants to show that the oppressive Chinese government has total control over people’s lives and it hides the truth very often.

Ilaria Belussi on "Moncler's Spring – Summer 2017 advertising campaign"

Liu Bolin is a famous body painting artist. He is Chinese. He’s known as “The Invisible Man” for his ability to blend himself into a landscape. His intention is not to disappear in the environment but instead to let the environment take possession of him.

Liu Bolin created a “camouflage” installation, which was captured by the American photographer Annie Leibovitz, for Moncler‘s Spring – Summer 2017 advertising campaign. Liu Bolin disappears into an impressive sculptural ice formation located in Iceland.

Cold tones of gray and blues dominate the image which expresses the indomitable power of nature.

My opinion

The artist draws our attention to icebergs which are melting because of global warming.

Francesco Duci's opinion on the same work

In this photo Liu Bolin wants to draw the attention to global warming which is caused by carbon dioxide (CO2) and other air pollutants and greenhouse gases. Global warming is responsible for the melting of mountain glaciers and ice sheets.

Gabrile Boffelli on "Cannon" from "Hiding in the City" series

Liu Bolin is a Chinese artist who has become internationally known for his “Hiding” series of photographs, in which Bolin’s body and face are painted by assistants to blend in to his surroundings, rendering him almost invisible. Liu Bolin’s works make a statement about his place in society. Standing silently in front of his chosen background, the artist uses himself as a blank canvas.

In this photo, the Chinese artist melts into a cannon standing at Horse Guards Parade, Central London.

My opinion

The artist draws the viewer’s attention to war, the disasters and death caused by wars around the world.

Ambra Cadei on "Memory Day" from "Migrants", 2015

Liu Bolin was born in China in 1973. He studied sculpture at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing.

He uses his own body as a canvas.

Liu Bolin uses a team of assistants to paint the camouflage onto his body to make himself invisible. While they paint his body he remains extremely still for hours. Each photograph can take up to ten hours to set up.

I think that "Migrants" is the best project by Liu Bolin. He worked with a group of refugees in Sicily in 2015. They are the protagonists of this amazing project.

My opinion

This photo is a masterpiece. It a fantastic work because it shows the tragedy of migration through a touching image. This photo can help people to understand that we are all human beings and we should accept each other in spite of the colour of our skin.

Irene Busi's opinion on the same work

This photo shows immigrants, painted as if they were sand. They are unwanted in Italy as well as in other countries. Liu Bolin tries to raise awareness on a thorny topic - migration - and that is the reason why I have chosen this photo.

Anastasia Dragic on "Hiding in France, Meat Factory", 2013

Liu Bolin’s work draws attention to the danger of food we eat. “The United Nations expresses its focus on issues of food safety alongside artists who are able to draw attention to this topic through their artworks” the official message accompanying the idea of this project stated. First he represented the food safety issues in his home country, China, in 2009. He camouflaged himself into a stand with instant noodles to denounce that these products contain chemicals that are harmful to human health.

My opinion

I think this masterpiece is a warning of contemporary society’s consumptive power. The artist wants to denounce human beings who kill animals to feed themselves even though they are living creatures too.

Linda Fusini on "The Hope" from "Migrants", 2015

Liu Bolin is known for his photographic self-portraits, characterized by the fusion of the body with the surrounding area, through an accurate body-painting. In his works Bolin fades, becomes transparent, decides to cancel himself. His aim is to denounce and show the condition of modern man, who has lost his identity because of an extremely materialistic and technologized society. He is nicknamed "the invisible man" because in his works he seems to disappear and become one with the background.

Today the human being, forced to act and to think according to the system that society imposes, loses its individuality and therefore ideally cancels itself. The artist says about his work: "It's a gesture of denunciation. What is the development of the human being today, and where does it lead? Man is disappearing in his environment. Technology has brought a lot of material development, but what should we do to remain human? I do not want to lose myself in this labyrinth, so I choose this form of defense. I am for an art of civil commitment ".

The first boat that in 2013 transported migrants from Africa to the Catanese coast is preserved on the pier of Mezzogiorno, in the Port of Catania. Among them, six Egyptian children who, exhausted by the trip on that fishing boat, drowned tragically trying to gain the shore, a few meters from the beach of Lido Verde.

In 2015 he created the "Migrants" series in Catania cooperating with Sant'Egidio Community and a group of migrants. For the first shot of his project the artist has chosen to merge with the wreck of whose story he is a silent witness. It is titled “The Hope”.

My opinion

The author's goal was to describe the migrants’ arrival and mark the beginning of their future. His goal was to focus on life and their hopes, and to represent the evanescent relationship between life and death, too.

Giulia Gervasoni on "Guernica", 2016

Liu Bolin recreated the masterpiece "Guernica" painted by Picasso in 1937 which was inspired by the terrible bombing of the Basque city, in northern Spain in 1936. Picasso wanted to express his outrage over the Nazi bombing of the city, ordered by General Franco.

Picasso’s monumental black-and-white canvas has become an international symbol of genocide committed during wartime. The painting shows the tragedies of war and the suffering of both people and animals.

In his work, Liu Bolin wants to denounce the cruelty of the war. He says about his work: "I put my thinking of the whole of society and my view of the entire world into my artworks".

My opinion

Recreating the imagery of human suffering and devastation of war symbolized in the painting "Guernica", Liu Bolin is making a plea for humanity and freedom.

Ayoub Hssaini on "Hiding in the City No. 2 - Suo Jia Village", 2005

Liu Bolin became famous in 2005 when the Chinese government destroyed Beijing artist village Suo Jia Cun. He camouflaged himself with the ruins of his studio then he was photographed. His protest, which draws attention to the absence of protection of Chinese artists, is silent but his work is a “shout”. The photo became a success immediately.

My opinion

The artist is launching a message of freedom and rebellion. He wants to express his anger towards the administration that had destroyed his studio to make room for modern buildings.

Rebecca Lazzari on "The Future", 2015

Liu Bolin created “The Future” in 2015 to raise awareness of the UN’s Global Goals to end extreme poverty and fight inequality, injustice and climate change. The artwork features the hand-painted artist set against 193 UN flags representing all the UN’s member states, who would soon unite to adopt the Global Goals. The piece, draws attention to the 17 "global goals" - a series of ambitious targets to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice and tackle climate change by 2030.

"Compared with my former works, where I draw attention to social issues by hiding myself in the background, this piece aims to make people think about the future of human beings. I want this new work to help raise consciousness about issues such as poverty, unbalanced development, and global climate change. We can’t stand idle around these issues. We need to do something. Art cannot change the future, of course, but it can touch the present. I hope that through this work, more and more people will become aware of how serious the issues we face are, and start making an effort to change the world."

My opinion

Nowadays some people think that some countries have more power than others, actually it is not true. Even though countries are different, people are equal and we have the same rights.

Alice Morotti on "Future" from "Migrants", 2015

Liu Bolin’s work includes the following series:

  • Hiding in the City: he uses chameleon-like methods to immerse himself in environments of his native country, China.
  • Hiding in Italy: he hides himself within famous places in Italy.
  • Hiding in the Rest of the World: he hides himself within famous places around the world.
  • Fade in Italy: he merges with typical Italian products.
  • Cooperations: the artist cooperates with major fashion brands.
  • Shelves: he hides himself within supermarket’s shelves to draw attention on food consumption.
  • Migrants: it’s a project involving migrants created in Sicily in 2015.

This photo shows migrants with the word FUTURE painted on their bodies.

My opinion

I think that Liu Bolin wants to tell us that their future depends on us and on how we welcome them.

Greta Muca on "Teatro alla Scala", 2010

Liu Bolin draws inspiration from controversial topics often discussed in modern Chinese society, such as rapid urban development and uniformity.

“In China, people have maintained the red-themed uniformity lifestyle for a long time… They have even injected the uniformity of behaviour or thinking into their blood,” Liu has stated in an interview.

My opinion

“Just because you do not see something, it does not mean it is not there.” In my opinion this sentence describes this picture perfectly. I think that his blending in with the seats of a theater means that he doesn't want to be on the stage, he prefers to work hard and then sit and watch the results.

Mirko Muntoni on "Plasticizer", 2011

Liu Bolin camouflages himself with the soft drinks on supermarket shelves.

Bolin’s work is often concerned with food safety. “In 2011, Plasticizer was found to be added into soft drinks,” says Bolin. “I did a piece about that, and from then on, all kinds of food safety affairs were exposed.”

My opinion

He is protesting against the eccessive use of soft drinks that contain too much sugar and are unhealthy.

He shows our need to buy soft drinks even if we do not need them.

Michelina Romanò on "Sunflower", 2012

Sunflowers are used in Chinese culture to inspire young children. The sunflower is a heliotropic flower, as its head always rotates to face the sun. Young children in China are taught to be like little obedient sunflowers who always face the sun. In 2014 there was a Taiwanese student uprising called the ‘Sunflower Student Movement’ in protest to a trade agreement with the People’s Republic of China. The artist comments on a form of social conditioning.

My opinion

Liu Bolin draws attention to education of children in China. They are taught to be obedient but children need to be creative too.

Cristian Tonelli on "Hiding in Italy", 2012

Liu Bolin camouflages himself with the amazing frescos of Villa dei Misteri in Pompei.

My opinion

Liu Bolin focuses his attention on Italy, in particular on the preservation of the historical-artistic heritage of “Bel Paese”, in contrast with what happens in China, where the destruction of historical neighborhoods is systematic and physiological to make room for the new building of modern cities.

He thinks that he can say much more in the silence than with noisier actions.

He uses invisibility to make social, cultural, political issues visible.

Edoardo Zucchetti on "Design Fashion", 2014

Liu Bolin's works have been in museums all around the world.

It may look like a photograph of shelves, but if you watch carefully you will see a man who blends in with the colourful background.

He draws attention to the phenomenon of consumerism, which marks contemporary culture and society. Liu Bolin blends with the products carefully arranged on the shelves of stores and supermarkets. His message is: we are what we consume, and what we consume consumes us, destroying our identity and making us all the same.

In this photo the artist camouflages himself in some shelves full of Tod’s shoes. The performance took place in Italy in 2014. Liu Bolin cooperated with Diego Della Valle, an Italian businessman who is famous all over the world.

My opinion

I think it’s a representation of a world where we see nobody but ourselves, we walk on the streets and we can’t see people who need help. We look all the same. Same shoes, same shirts, same thoughts. We haven’t got an identity, we are all the same.

I like this piece of art for its wonderful colours and because it shows an Italian products that is known all over the world.

Created by Class 3B and Eva Picco

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