For over a decade, Liu has continued to work within the same unique medium — camouflaging himself into various backgrounds with the aim of raising awareness on political and societal issues.
He has built up an impressive arsenal of works, is well received on the international art circuit, and has extended his work to commercial ventures — including collaborations with top fashion houses.
See highlights from his work in the gallery above.
There’s a man hiding in this photo — can you spot him?
Liu Bolin is a master of disguise. The Chinese artist, known for painting himself onto different landscapes, often weaves social and political issues into his work. Two pieces from his ‘Hiding in the City’ series will be featured in a new exhibition titled ‘We Are What We Eat’ which critiques food waste and consumption.
The exhibit runs from April 28 – June 30, and is hosted in the United Nations Headquarters.
He recently traveled to Italy and captured images for his “Migrants” series.
Over the past decade he’s highlighted some of the world’s most pressing issues with his work.
Liu Bolin’s recent piece, “The Future,” is in support of a new United Nations Campaign called Global Goals.
Hiding in the City, People’s Policeman (2006) – Liu, who has worked on ‘disappearing’ since 2005, says he never tires of this technique. “I never thought to stop disappearing, instead I always think about other ideas to work on.”
Hiding in the City, Info Wall (2011) – In China, it’s a common sight to see advertisements like these plastered on walls. Liu has to stand, patiently for hours at a time, while his assistants paint him to match a chosen backdrop.
Hiding in the City, Village (2013) – The artist work has evolved to include other people. In this piece, he paints 23 residents affected by one of China’s infamous cancer villages. Chemical factories can be seen in the distance. “When I made this work about a cancer village, my art reflected human suffering through commemoration and grief.”
Hiding in New York, Made In China (2012) – One of the issues that Liu addresses in his work is consumerism. “I believe the development of modern society is generated by human desire,” he opines.
Hiding in the City, Mobile Phone (2012) – In recent years, Liu’s works have touched upon modern day technologies — which he finds worrying. “In the modern era, everyone is just a piece of data, which is valued less and less everyday. Meanwhile technologies achieved by desire, or the possibilities of some sort of human development, is winning over the hearts of modern day people.”
Hiding in the City, Red (2012) – “After these 10 years of my creative career—as far as I come—when I’m creating a work, or just viewing one, or just trying to express my idea as an artist, the most important part about the work is my attitude towards reality,” Liu says.
Through the eye of Liu Bolin (2012) – Liu Bolin collaborated with French street artist JR on this work. Liu hides himself in one of JR’s large-scale murals in New York City.
Hiding in the City, Ancient Watercourse (2007) – In earlier works, Liu would have to paint himself to ‘melt’ into backgrounds. As he became more famous, he enlisted the help of studio assistants to help with more intricate details.
Bon Jovi (2012) – This mural, which conceals both Liu Bolin and Bon Jovi, became the album cover for Bon Jovi’s What About Now. The background mural was designed by Alex Haldi.
Hiding in the City, Unity to Promote Education (2006) – Big, four-character red slogans are commonly found throughout China. They are used to spread propaganda and political messages.
Hiding in New York, Gun Rack (2013) – “When I pick a background and disappear, I’ve already expressed my attitude towards society, the future, and desire. It’s a deep understanding that I bring to the audience,” Liu says.
Hiding in New York, Wall Street Bull (2011) – Liu has travelled the world for exhibitions. He has ‘hid’ in cities around the world. Of his progression, Liu says, “I think the imbalance of human development is embodied more and more in my works.”
Hiding in the City, Forest (2013) – In this piece, Liu vanishes into a forest of tall birch trees. Can you spot him?
Hiding in the City, Beijing Welcomes You (2006) – In an early work from 2006, Liu painted himself to match the background of 2008 Beijing Olympics mascots that began appearing throughout the city. Huge swaths of the city’s old hutongs were torn down to make way for the event.
Dragon, Panel 6 (2010) – This photo is one of nine in his Dragon series. The dragon is a symbol of power, strength and good luck in China.
Hiding in the City, Three Goddesses (2011) – Liu found this blown-up photo depicting China’s prosperity and might, on a billboard in the center of the city. “I am trying to dive much deeper into the issues of human development,” Liu says, of his evolving body of work.
Hacker No.5 (2015) – Earlier this May, Liu and his team hacked into 8 European Countries’ official websites, and replaced parts of the sites with photos from his studio.
Hacker No. 6 (2015) – “The point of my Hacker Series is to question the relationship between a country and its people, the domination of a government’s political power, as well as the rights to the photos themselves,” says Liu.
Hiding in the City, Tiananmen (2005) – Liu Bolin’s first series, Hiding in the City, began in 2005. He camouflaged himself into the ruins of his demolished art studio as a form of silent protest. “After that,” Liu says, “I shifted my focus to heated social issues.”
For Bolin’s latest “Migrants” series, he asked refugees to pose.
The three artworks in “Migrants” are titled “The Hope,” “Target – Memory Day” and “Target – Blue Europe.”