Li Hongbo’s stunning flexible sculptures are not what they seem

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Li Hongbo - Teaching Aid

Li Hongbo -- Teaching Aid, 2014, paper

Published: July 19, 2017

Last updated:

Introduction

Li Hongbo is an artist based in Beijing, China and creates unusual and surprising art pieces from paper. A designer and book editor, Li Hongbo started collecting and experimenting his ideas with paper after being inspired by the festive ‘paper gourd’ decorations and traditional Chinese boys’ toys. Both of these pieces have a simple but amazing ‘honeycomb’ composition and can be molded into any shape.

His technique

He takes thousands of paper sheets and glues them together to make a large block of paper. He then carves into the paper by the use of an electronic saw and makes a form that is stretchable, just like an accordion. This transforms the final piece into something that is very different from the original pieces of paper. From a distance, these pieces look like they are made of porcelain or marble. However, these characteristic changes when the pieces are stretched and expanded. It is possible to snap everything back to its original position after the expansion without losing the qualities of the sculpture.

The pieces continue to amaze many visitors to the galleries where they are exhibited with many wishing they had a chance to play with the pieces. Apart from the art, Li spends lots of time writing about Buddhist paper art.

Video: Statues in Motion

1 min 59 sec

Biography

Li Hongbo has appeared in several major exhibitions such as the SCAD Museum of Art, Beijing Minsheng Museum and 18th Biennale of Sydney in 20120, for which he created thousands of brightly colored paper flowers in the beautiful scenery. However, when the flowers are flattened, they reveal hidden weapons such as AK 47s and pistols. The artist also has several private collections and has the White Rabbit Collection, the Central Academy of Fine Arts at the Beijing and Found Museum in Beijing.

Photos of paper sculptures

Li Hongbo -- Bust of Agrippa, 2012, paper, 60 x 36 x 32 cm

Li Hongbo -- Bust of Agrippa, 2012, paper, 60 x 36 x 32 cm

Li Hongbo -- Bust of David, 2012, paper, 70 x 50 x 50 cm

Li Hongbo -- Bust of David, 2012, paper, 70 x 50 x 50 cm

Li Hongbo -- Bust of Lion Hat, 2012, paper, 60 x 40 x 30 cm

Li Hongbo -- Bust of Lion Hat, 2012, paper, 60 x 40 x 30 cm

Li Hongbo -- Bust of Marseilles, 2012, paper, 60 x 36 x 35 cm

Li Hongbo -- Bust of Marseilles, 2012, paper, 60 x 36 x 35 cm

Li Hongbo -- Bust of Michelangelo, 2012, paper, 50 x 20 x 25 cm

Li Hongbo -- Bust of Michelangelo, 2012, paper, 50 x 20 x 25 cm

Detail of Li Hongbo paper sculpture

Li Hongbo -- Roman Youth, 2013, paper, 52 x 36 x 26 cm

Li Hongbo -- Roman Youth, 2013, paper, 52 x 36 x 26 cm

Li Hongbo -- Roman Youth, 2013, paper, 52 x 36 x 26 cm

Li Hongbo -- Torso of a young woman, 2012, paper, 58 x 32 x 25 cm

Li Hongbo -- Torso of a young woman, 2012, paper, 58 x 32 x 25 cm

All images: Li Hongbo unless otherwise noted.

 

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