Curator Emma Thomson
Liu Bolin / Camouflage examines Liu Bolin’s career over almost two decades; from his best-known Hiding in the City series initiated in 2005 until the present day. The exhibition aims to demonstrate how the artist’s strategy of camouflage has allowed him to produce images which resonate globally with viewers across time and place.
Staged and photographed in-situ Liu Bolin’s images depict meticulously painted human bodies – often his own – hiding in the surroundings of everyday spaces and places.
Through the feeling of connection that we share with the human bodies depicted, the viewer is invited to question how the dominant perspectives at play in everyday spaces and places shape our sense of self; feelings of pain, violence or loss, as part of a broader human search for mutual understanding and connectedness.
In this way the camouflaged body can be thought of as vehicle for thinking and making change; a metaphor for the idea of ethical living, where freedom from domination, fulfillment of one’s own potential and the exercise of human rights, along with the call for simpler ways of being in the natural world, are at the heart of the artist’s struggle.
Liu Bolin was born in 1973 in the Shandong province of eastern China, where he continues to live and work. His artistic commitment began in the 1990s as China was recovering from the devastating effects of the Cultural Revolution, with its economic development on the upswing and the stabilisation of its political situation. Liu’s photographs and sculptures have been exhibited in many museums and institutions worldwide. He has collaborated with prominent artists including Kenny Scharf, JR, Jon Bon Jovi, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Fernando Botero, Carlos Cruz-Diez and Annie Leibovitz. In 2013, Liu presented a TED Talk, which has been viewed by millions of viewers online. In 2015, he was commissioned by the United Nations Global Goals campaign to create an image to promote 17 goals — including ending poverty and encouraging sustainable development and the fight against social injustice and inequality — where he faded into the backdrop of 193 country flags.