Chinese artists have been attracting more attention recently; both from the international art community and—more troublingly—the Chinese government. With the detention, release and subsequent $2.2 Million dollar
fine “back taxes” imposed on dissident artist Ai Weiwie, China is proving itself to be both a dangerous place for artistic expression, and—ironically—one where such expression matters most.
Check out the awesome bike sculpture Ai Weiwie welded up from hundreds of frames made by the Chinese state-run bike company over at Adventure Journal.
It’s that context which makes the impressive trompe l’oeil photographs of Liu Bolin more than simply grand optical illusions. And it is a great illusion: one doesn’t need to understand the politics of political repression in China to appreciate Liu’s clever trademark of painting himself into the Chinese landscape. In each of the massive prints—up to 5′ wide in a recent exhibit titled “Hiding in the City” at Stockholm’s Fotografiska Museet—he is literally painted into the landscape.
Ostensibly, the purpose of the project is to “explore the relationship between people and their environment.” But given the history of censorship under the Chinese regime, enforced by a chilling ability to make artists literally disappear, it’s also a powerfully revealing work of camouflage. And, as the exhibit draws crowds to art galleries around the world (including New York—check out the film below), it’s proof of the power of art to make change.
See more of Liu Bolin’s photographs from The Invisible Man project, visit the website of the Eli Klein Gallery.