“In a context that emphasises cultural heritage, concealment is actually no place to hide”.
Liu Bolin, November 2008
Scream are proud to present internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Liu Bolin’s first UK solo exhibition The Heroic Apparition. Liu Bolin was born in 1973 in China’s Shandong province and attended the prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 2001 and received a Master of Fine Arts degree. Initially conceived as a series of performances, Bolin selected varying locations around Beijing and posed motionless while his team of assistants would paint his figure to replicate the background and enable the figure of the artist to completely blend into the surroundings. This was then documented as a series of photographs and so the ‘invisible man’ was born. Bolin’s iconic series have included performances in Beijing, Paris and New York and have captured the imagination of a global audience.
Bolin’s oeuvre includes sculpture, performance and photography but it is these ‘camouflague’ images that have become his signature style. Although visually intriguing and playful the works convey an unequivocal political stance and are implicitly potent in content. Having moved to Beijing in 1999 Bolin became a key figure in Beijing’s artistic community and was greatly affected by the encroaching industrialisation and urban planning of the city, at the expense of these ‘artist villages’. The artist comments “My clairvoyance makes it impossible for me to be a happy artist, and the only way I have to express my feelings is to show them in my works and try to use them to wake up the world around me”. The image of Bolin’s figure gradually dissolving into the background is a poignant way of conveying the fears and frustrations of society in the hands of a strict and oppressive regime. But this idea of camouflage or disappearance can also be interpreted as an act of survival or as Silvia Mattei states “his performances thus speak of the individual’s capacity to adapt to environmental changes and reaffirm human resilience”. The works in this exhibition address the tension between the advancing economical, industrial, social and environmental issues that affect communities across the world and it is these concerns that unite us all and enable Bolin to communicate powerfully and effectively to a global audience.
Bolin’s exploration of identity, human rights, state control and the relationship between human beings and the environment has positioned him as one of the most exciting and relevant contemporary artists working today. He has shown extensively around the world in galleries and museums including Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome, Italy, Fotografiska Museet, Stockholm, Sweden and Shanghai MoCA in China.