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    In 2005, Liu Bolin’ first series “Hide in the city” presents a self-portrait of the artist immobile and covered with paint, blending in with a black decor, his studio, located in the district of artists razed by the Chinese government. A silent protest: Liu Bolin makes himself invisible to get noticed. Since then, he has created works combining photography, body art, optical art and living sculpture. This man-chameleon poses for hours in front the backdrop of his choice to blend in with the scenery with the help of his painters-assistants, without any digital effects. At the end of the process, he stops the performance through photography.

    By first working in his native country and later including the entire world, he composes images that at first attract, then surprise and disturb, and finally imprint themselves on the memory. He uses a unique artistic form with a rare effectiveness that is perfectly in sync with the modern times.

    ” Some will say that I disappear in the landscape; I would say for my part that it is the environment that seizes me. “

    Liu Bolin was born in 1973 in the province of Shandong in China. He studied sculpture at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing. He currently lives and works in Beijing.

    Born in Shandong province, China in 1973.
    Graduated from Shandong Academy of Fine Arts in 1995.
    Graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts with a master’s degree in 2001.


    21c Museum, Louisville, KY,
    88-MOCCA, Vaduz, Liechtenstein
    Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH
    ARTantide Museum, Verona, Italy
    AT&T Art Collection, Dallas, TX
    Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD
    Banca Aletti, Milan, Italy
    Bates College Museum of Art, Lewiston, ME
    Biblioteca Capitolare, Verona, Italy
    Collection SOCIÉTÉ GÉNÉRALE, France
    Collection NEUFLIZE VIE, Paris, France
    The Fidelity Corporate Art Collection, Boston, MA
    Fist Art Foundation, Dorado, Puerto Rico
    Fondation Ariane de Rothschild, Madrid, Spain
    Fondation Frances, Senlis, France
    Fotografiska Museet, Stockholm, Sweden
    The Gold Museum, Bogotá, Columbia
    HBC Global Art Collection, New York, NY
    Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
    M+ Sigg Collection, Hong Kong
    MART, Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Rovereto, Italy
    Museo Enzo Ferrari, Modena, Italy
    Museum on the Seam, Jerusalem, Israel
    Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ
    The Red Mansion Foundation, London, UK
    Teutloff Photo & Video Collection, Bielefeld, Germany
    Unicredit Group, Milan, Italy
    DSL Collection, Paris, France
    Uli Sigg Collection, Switzerland
    Symbolic Collection, San Diego, CA


    La forma profonda del reale di Liu Bolin, Bocconi Unicersity, Bocconi Art Gallery, Milan,Italy
    The Bigger Picture – Liu Bolin: Moving Images, Kunstlinie Almere Flevoland, Almere,The Netherlands
    Hiding on the 38th Parallel North, Galerie Paris-Beijing, Paris, France
    Liu Bolin / Camouflage – Ballarat International Foto Biennale, Art Gallery of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
    The Invisible Man, Palacio de Gaviria, Madrid, Spain
    Continuous Refle(a)ction, Riverside Art Museum, Beijing, China
    Liu Bolin “New Change” – Over the Influence, Hong Kong, China
    Visible/Invisible, Mudec – Museo delle Culture, Milano, Italy

    The Theatre of Appearances, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Swiss  Party, ActVanishing Point, BAFA Contemporary, London, UK
    Hiding in the city, Le Didam, Bayonne, France
    The Invisible Man, Complesso Del Vittoriano – Ala Brasini, Roma, Italia
    The Invisible Man, Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art, St. Petersburg, Russia

    Ghost Stories, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France.
    Galerie Party, Act 2, in collaboration with Studio GGSV, Galerie des Enfants, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France.
    Solo Show, Galerie Paris-Beijing, Paris, France.
    Retrospective, Festival Portrait(s), Vichy, France
    Liu Bolin, Undercover, Odalys Gallery, Madrid, Spain

    Liu Bolin, Art Hacker, Klein Sun Gallery, New York, USA
    Liu Bolin, Magda Danysz Gallery, Shanghai, China
    Liu Bolin, Hadrien De Montferrand Gallery, Hangzhou, China

    Hiding in the City, Edwynn Houk Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland
    Liu Bolin, Galerie Paris-Beijing, Paris, France
    Liu Bolin, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina

    Liu Bolin, Boise Art Museum, Boise, ID, USA
    A colorful world, Klein Sun Gallery, New York, USA
    In plain sight : photographs by Liu Bolin, University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut, USA

    Liu Bolin, Galerie Paris-Beijing, Paris, France
    Liu Bolin, Galerie Paris-Beijing, Brussels, Belgium
    Mask, Eli Klein Fine Art, new York, USA
    Liu Bolin – ein Meister der Tarnung,” Kunstverein Ludwigsburg, Ludwigsburg, Germany
    Festival Made In Asia, Toulouse, France

    Festival Images, Vevey, Switzerland
    Liu Bolin, The Longyear Museum of Anthropology, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY
    Liu Bolin, Photographers Limited Editions, Vienna, Austria
    Liu Bolin: A Secret Tour, Museo H.C. Andersen, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome, Italy
    Liu Bolin: The Sociology of the Invisible Body, California State University Northridge Art Galleries, Northridge, CA
    The Invisible Man, Ekaterina Cultural Foundation, Moscow, Russia
    Eli Klein Fine Art, New York, USA

    Liu Bolin, Galerie Paris-Beijing, Beijing, China
    The Invisible Man, Eli Klein Fine Art, New York, USA
    Hiding in the City, Fotografiska Museet, Stockholm, Sweden
    Hiding in the City, Galerie Paris-Beijing, France

    Sylvia White Gallery, Ventura, CA
    Hiding in Italy, Forma Centro Internazionale Di Fotografia, Milano, Italy
    Hiding in the City, Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela
    Sunshine International Art Museum, Songzhuang, Beijing, China
    On Fire, Eli Klein Fine Art, New York, NY
    Galerie Du Monde, Hong Kong, China
    Young Gallery, Brussels, Belgium

    Hiding in the City, Galeria Tagomago, Barcelona, Spain
    Getting Accustomed to Being Impermanent, Vanguard Gallery, Shanghai, China
    Hiding in the City, Yu Gallery, Paris, France

    Liu Bolin Solo Exhibition, Boxart Gallery, Verona, Italy
    Liu Bolin Solo Exhibition, Galerie Bertin-Toublanc, Paris, France
    Lin bolin Solo Exhibition, 798 Originality Square, Beijing, China
    Lin bolin Solo Exhibition, Bridge Art Center, Beijing, China
    Lin bolin Solo Exhibition, Eastlink Gallery, Shanghai, China
    Liu Bolin’s Life, Hotsun Art Space, Beijing, China
    Lin bolin Solo Exhibition, Galerie Adler, Paris, France
    Liu Bolin Solo Exhibition, Mediterranean Gallery, Palermo, Italy
    Liu Bolin Solo Exhibition, Ifa Gallery, Shanghai, China
    Liu Bolin Solo Exhibition, Eli Klein Gallery, New York, USA

    Liu Bolin Solo Exhibition, Galerie Bertin-Toublanc, Miami, USA
    Liu Bolin Sculpture Exhibition, Hotsun Art Space, Beijing, China
    Distortion, Hotsun Art Space, Beijing, China
    Liu Bolin Solo Exhibition, Galerie Bertin-Toublanc, Paris, France


    Nourrir le corps nourrit l’esprit, Centre d’art contemporain de Meymac, Meymac, France

    Je mange donc je suis, Musée de l’Homme, Paris, France
    Paris Photo 2019 with Galerie Paris-Beijing, Paris, France

    Exhibition of Chinese Contemporary Photography – Chinascape: From Rural to Urban. Spazioborgogno, Milan, Italy
    Seeing Now,21C Museum Hotel, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
    We are what we eat, United Nations Visitor Center (main entrance lobby), United Nations Headquarters, New York, USA
    Dubai Art Season, Commission by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, Dubai, UAE
    The First Chinese Abstract Art Exhibition, Ningbo Culture Center 117 Art Center, Ningbo, China
    Drawing Hands, MD Gallery, Shanghai, China

    360° – A Selection of 500 Contemporary Artworks, MD Gallery, Shanghai, China
    Touch the classics Contemporary China100 – Jin Hongwei original collection show, China
    Millennium Monument, Cipa Gallery, Beijing, China
    Guerlain’s group exhibition La petite Robe noire, variation autour d’un mythe, Avenue des Champs Elysées, Paris, France
    Tokyo International Photography Festival 2015 – Focus on the Future What Makes Us “Us”, Tokyo, Japan
    “Target,” Bienal de Performance 2015, Buenos Aires, Argentina
    East Wing Biennial: INTERACT, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, London, England

    Perspectives, Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow, Russia
    Les esthétiques d’un monde désenchanté, Abbaye Saint André, Centre D’Art Contemporain, Meymac, France
    The Camera’s Eye, PHOTOJAX 2014, Jacksonville, Floride, USA
    East Wing Biennial: INTERACT, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, London, England
    Pho-to-graffs: Images of Hip Hop, Grafitti, and Urban Culture,” Gold Coast Arts Center, Great Neck, New York, USA
    Seeing the Unseen,” The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Floride, USA
    East by South East, OBS Gallery, Tonbridge School, Tonbridge, England
    Chinese Contemporary Photography: 2009 – 2014 Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, China

    Incarnations : photographies-performances de Chine, Institut Confucius, Angers, France
    Invisible, the 13th China Pingyao International Photography Festival, Pingyao, China
    Portrait(s), Culture Centre Valery Larbaud, Vichy, France
    Inner Journeys, Maison Paticulière Art Center, Brussels, Belgium
    Religion, Ritual, and Performance in Modern and Contemporary Art, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, Usa
    Incarnations, Institut Confucius des Pays de la Loire d’Angers, Angers, France
    Aura and Post Aura, The First Beijing Photography Biennale, China Millennium Monument, Beijing, China

    Incarnations, Galerie Paris-Beijing, Paris, France
    Changement de Décor, Festival des Arts Visuels de Vevey, Vevey, Switzerland
    Bienne Festival of Photography, Bienne, Switzerland
    Harper’s Bazaar: Inside the Magazine, Museum of Modern Art, Kiev, Ukraine
    Performing for the Camera, Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, Arizona, USA

    Scenes from Within: Contemporary Art from China, Blackbridge Hall Gallery, Georgia College, Milledgeville, GA
    Fotográfica Biennale, Museo de Fotografía, Bogotá, Columbia
    Black and White, Zero Art Museum, Beijing, China
    Fotográfica Biennale, Museo de Fotografía, Bogotá, Columbia

    The Right to Protest, Museum on the Seam, Jerusalem, Israel
    Passing China, Sanatorium, Istanbul, Turkey
    HomeLessHome, Museum on the Seam, Jerusalem, Israel
    Armed & Dangerous: Art of the Arsenal, Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, USA
    Animamix Biennial, Shanghai MoCA, Shanghai, Today Art Museum, Beijing, Guangdong Museum of Art

    Incarnations, Galerie Paris-Beijing, Beijing
    Shore – Contemporary Academy Sculpture Exhibition, Moon River Art Museum, Beijing, China
    Blank – Making China, Zhongjian Art Museum, Beijing, China
    International Contemporary Art Invitational Exhibition, Seoul Art Museum, Seoul, Korea
    Erotic – Contemporary Art Invitational Exhibition, Dadi Rui City Exhibition Center, Jinan, China
    The Big World: Recent Art from China, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, USA
    Passing By China, Eli Klein Fine Art, New York, NY
    Camouflage, La Casa Encendida, Madrid, Spain

    The Need of Representation, Beijing Yonghe Art Museum, Beijing, China
    Memory, BS1 Gallery, Beijing, China
    Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary Art, 798 Originality Square, Beijing, China
    International Art Exhibition, Sunshine Art Museum, Beijing, China
    Being – Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary Art, Jinan, China
    Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition, Liverpool, UK
    Force-Form, International Art Exhibition, Bridge Art Center, Beijing, China
    The Converted-Image, Dax Art Space, Beijing, China
    Rome International Contemporary Art Exhibition, International Exhibition Center, Rome, Italy

    Lost in Transition, Eli Klein Gallery, New York, USA
    Digital-man, Season Gallery, Beijing, China
    Leaving the City, Ifa Gallery, Shanghai, China
    Image Documents of China, Songzhuang Art Festival, Beijing, China
    He – Group Exhibition of Chinese & Chilean Artists, The First Land Art District, Beijing, China
    Made in Beijing – Contemporary Art Exhibition, Seoul, Korea
    Memory – Contemporary Art Exhibition, New York Art Center, Beijing, China
    Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition, New Gallery, Houston, USA
    Arles International Photo Festival, Arles, France
    Commune by the Great Wall Art Exhibition, Red Gate Gallery, Beijing, China
    Made in Beijing – Contemporary Art Exhibition, Duolun Art Museum, Shanghai, China
    Union, The First Land Art District, Beijing, China
    Union in June, China Performance Art Exhibition, Songzhuang Art District, Beijing, China
    Dream of China – Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition, Galerie Adler, Paris, France
    Back, Hotsun Art Space, Beijing, China
    After…, Beijing New Art Project Space, Beijing, China
    Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition, Mediterranean Gallery, Palermo, Italy
    Resetting, Suojia Artist Village, Beijing, China
    Photography of Performance Art Exhibition, Inter Gallery, Beijing, China
    Born in the 70’s – Off-center Generation, 751 Factory, 798 Art District, Beijing, China
    Breathing – The 1st Contemporary Art Exhibition of Shandong, Shandong Museum, Jinan, China

    Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition, Galerie Bertin-Toublanc, Paris, France
    Impact Power, Sunshine Art Museum, Beijing, China
    Visit in Person, Songzhuang Art District, Beijing, China
    Beijing’s View, Beijing New Art Project Space, Beijing, China
    Qingzhou International Contemporary Art Exhibition, Qingzhou Museum, Shandong, China
    Asain Contemporary Art Exhibition, Korea
    Red Star, Red Star, Red Star, Red Star Gallery, Beijing, China
    Chai Na – Enemies at the Gate, 751 Factory, 798 Art District, Beijing, China
    Olympic Sculpture Exhibition, Jintai Art Museum, Beijing, China
    Grey & Red, Beijing New Art Project Space, Beijing, China

    Luxury Age, Chinese Contemporary Sculpture Exhibition, Tianjin, China
    Chai? Chai! Chai. , Suojia Artist Village, Beijing, China

    Life is Beautiful – Invitational Sculpture Exhibition, Hangzhou Art Museum, China
    Invitational Sculpture Exhibition of Youth Artists, Hangzhou Art Museum, China



    Liu Bolin is known as a sculptor, a painter, a photograph, a performance artist.

    Text by Philippe Dagen, Liu Bolin, Abrams Edition, 2014

    Not one of these terms is inaccurate. Not one of them is sufficient. In the selection of work presented in this book, the photography captures ephemeral performances of human figures painted to merge with their surroundings. Sculpture, in the usual meaning of the word, is not directly implicated, but that does not prevent Liu Bolin’s work from being, strictly speaking, sculptural.

    Another observation, which is obvious for those who have seen some of his images, is that Liu Bolin creates through concealment. In the titles of his series, the verb hiding comes up over and over again. Man systematically disappears into the photographed landscape, whatever this landscape is-indoors or outdoors, street or supermarket, port or worksite. This technique immediately calls up the word camouflage.

    Camouflage and the arts have had a rather long relationship that began at least a century ago. During World War I, a number of painters were employed in the design and fabrication of camouflaged objects, thereby rendering them -in principle, at least-invisible. Observation posts were constructed out of lumber and sheet metal to look like tree trunks, and waves were painted on the sides of battleships. Since then, the processes have improved along with technical inventions well beyond anything the first “camouflagers” could have imagined.

    Still, this relationship is puzzling. A painter or a sculptor is an artist who creates something to be seen. Some have been reproached for showing too much, in defiance of morals or decency. More often others have been admonished for making false or misleading depictions that defy reality. Still others create abstracts that do not represent the world at all. Camouflage is something else altogether. The still life in a trompe-l’oeil makes you believe that there is something real where there is nothing, while camouflage makes you believe that there is nothing where there is actually something. This something or someone is often a threat or a weapon, and that is why it is hiding. By camouflaging himself in diverse places, Liu Bolin suggests that his presence is somehow disturbing.

    However, camouflage is imperfect. It is perhaps the fate of any concealed object to be spotted before or after it has had time to accomplish its intended harm. But, in Liu Bolin’s case, if his silhouettes were absolutely impossible to spot, his photographs would stop being effective. We would just see the inside of a factory, a bank vault, store shelves. All of the landscapes are rather commonplaces, immediately identifiable, and of limited interest since they are so well known and have been seen innumerable times. What makes his images interesting is that one or several individuals can be found within them, concealed but visible, as long as the viewer takes the time to look attentively. One can distinguish a figure, perhaps a shape of a head that does not completely merge with the background. With the help of the clues of this nature, the eye quickly discovers the full body or bodies hidden within the image. One’s perception outsmarts the clever artifices that were supposed to hide a figure that is often in the foreground and center of the image.

    Moreover, there is pleasure in finally seeing-a pleasure that is not innocent since it shares something with the satisfaction of a sharpshooter who identifies his or her target despite the artfulness that should render it invisible. Thus, Liu Bolin invites the spectator to behave like a hunter, which is a way of reminding us that to see can mean to kill and to and to be seen can mean being killed. With his imperfect camouflage, Liu Bolin places himself in a dangerous situation.

    Undoubtedly this is true, but such simulated danger is a condition of much artistic activity, especially when it takes extreme forms. The demonstrations of the Viennese Actionists were the most provocative when a simulation of violence was mastered either totally or partially. The lives of those involved were not really threatened-not even when Chris Burden had them shot with a rifle-but the brutality looked real enough to make a lasting impression. The Beings hidden in the photographs of Liu Bolin are not really threats, and they are not really targets, but these notions are still at work and the sensations that accompany them are imprinted on the minds of the viewer-whether they are aware of it or not.

    By turns the artist utilizes these two contrasting states of camouflage and discoverability, which share the common element of danger. Since the danger is not expressed in an obvious way-it is implied and not stated outright-it is all the more forceful. This appreciation of danger’s aesthetic appeal does not just apply to Liu Bolin. It is valid for all the visual arts and reaches even beyond them. It can be found in movies where special effects simulating catastrophes are admired for their realism; this well-deserved admiration is mixed in with the spectator’s experience of the terror that the director is trying to arouse. He is showing his technical skill-that of the engineers and the costume and digital designers. The story tends to disappear, fragmented in moments between the impressive visuals. The same thing happens in the field of photography: Sebastiao Salgado’s moving, too-beautiful images of death, destruction, and poverty are proof of it.

    In contrast, a movie can generate agitation and fear without resorting too such artifices. There could be just a shadow or a noire, an instant, when you are not sure if something just moved. The invisible threat is far more disturbing than that of a shape, an appearance, a body. Not to be able to locate it, not to perceive the shape is the worst prospect, which has a physical affect that directors, such as Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau in the past and more recently Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch, have used to their advantage. The reasons that this is effective are simple: not seeing the danger requires an increase in attention and lets the imagination run wild. Tension mounts. Reason has trouble keeping the upper hand. Briefly or at length, a Liu Bolin photograph operates on the same principles. It appears peaceful, nothing is happening, no one is there. Then one or several human presences begin to give themselves away. The banality and vacuity that seemed so unremarkable were mere pretenses. The warning inherent in these images can have universal value. It is perhaps prudent not to trust anything that appears innocent and reasonable to suspect danger at any time.

    This is the real lesson to be learned from camouflage, the visual lie. During a war, when camouflaged weapons or soldiers reveal themselves, that means it is too late for their enemies. That which was inanimate comes to life, and that which was innocuous becomes deadly. But we could say the same things about viruses, toxins, cancers-all that can poison, infect, corrupt. Skin or an organ that seems healthy ca, become polluted with cancerous cells. What I am getting at with these analogies is that the significance of the camouflage and surprise in Liu Bolin’s art is found during this very revelation, the instant when it unfolds. To stick to this medical metaphor, the moment of diagnosis is when everything changes in a fraction of a second. A cell reveals itself to be cancer.

    At this points, it is helpful to set aside the works of Liu Bolin just long enough to make a few observations about the real world. What is it made of? What’s in the news? Endless stories of espionage, duplicities, invisible dangers, criminal surprises, and catastrophes. It is easy to find multiple examples of these types of these types of stories in the recent past and present. Technological progress never stops creating new dangers and new means of surveillance. Ordinary people have the feeling of knowing very little about the mechanics of everything that surrounds them.

    Meanwhile, they are caught in a network of information like a bird in a net-like some of Liu Bolin’s figures caught in the white wires of phone chargers and computers. A person today cannot disappear, even if he or she wants to. A clue, an imprint, a code betrays us. Even in the most remote places on the planet, we cannot escape the eyes of the satellites or the ears of some listening device. Who hasn’t seen on TV or in a movie the control-room screens that remind the viewer that they can be observed at any time? Who has not heard about revelations of Edward Snowden and thereby lost their last illusions of privacy? At the same time, these advancements-which are no advance at all-go hand in hand with forms of pollution that were unknown until now, the destruction of ecosystems, the appearance of new diseases, and all types of unnatural food processing. These disasters are imperceptible at first, though later denounced and fought against. It seems increasingly reasonable to predict that the outcome of society will be the total, or at least partial, destruction of the human race.

    Today, people are caught between the certainty that there is no escape from surveillance and the feeling that the story of humanity can only come to the worst possible end. Of course, it must be said that these two convictions have particular sway in China – a country where police surveillance is an instrument of government that regularly produces tragic effects, and where the destruction of the planet by industry can be observed with a starker intensity than elsewhere. Liu Bolin was confronted with these two obvious realities throughout his life, and his “camouflaged” photographs cannot be fully understood without this information. A number of his works have a political component. “Explain to the reader”, he said to me during a conversation, “that my photographs’ strongest message is about my relationship with the Chinese reality.” He engages with food-tampering, scandals, the destruction of entire neighbourhoods, the drama of the workers who lost their jobs. He had out-of-work people sit in front of a wall on which was painted the slogan “The Communist Party is the force of progress.” He speaks to social criticism and resistance: “The more time passes, the more I ask myself questions.” Conversely, questions about the history of photography do not interest him very much. He settles the matter with a short “I never studied photography.” As to Andy Warhol, to whom he is sometimes compared, he objects-and rightly so-that while Warhol glorifies consumption, Liu Bolin himself takes a “critical stance” and “expresses his confusion and dismay.”

    Therefore, Liu Bolin is a relatively young Chinese artist who, after studying sculpture and continues to sculpt, suddenly invented a new artistic object that is both photographic and a performance art. In his images, he locks in on the ideas of danger, disappearance, and anguish. They often show specifically Chinese places and the imperfect game of camouflage. By first working in his native country and later including the entire world, he composes images that at first attract, then surprise and disturb, and finally imprint themselves on the memory. He uses a unique artistic form with a rare effectiveness that is perfectly in sync with the modern times.