Chinese artist-illusionist Liu Bolin has been up his to his tricks again, but blink and you will miss his disappearing act as he popped up for a performance in Caracas.
He has come to Venezuela for the first time, and after blending in with rows of plastic bottles and vegetables back home, and magazines in New York, here he chose comic books.
Being known as the ‘invisible man’ in a way almost negates his art, yet Liu’s technical mastery is unique.
“When I arrived in Venezuela, I realised that the car I was in was armored. That gave me the idea to reflect the violence that exists today in this country,” he said.
His observations of the crime and violence in Caracas led him to develop an installation featuring a subject painted into a target.
As always Liu found inspiration in shelves. The country’s inflation problem hit home, he says, when he pulled out some money for a bottle of water in a supermarket in Caracas and was told it was not enough. The experience led him to create an installation of blending one person into a 50 bolivar bill. He may camouflage himself, but his meaning is clear.
“I went shopping and realised how worried Venezuelans are about inflation. So I wanted to express my idea through the currency, to reflect the relationship between money and people. The other work is corn flour. It’s scarce in Venezuela and I see that everyone wants it. And that’s the idea I wanted to express in my work.”
Recently Bolin blended himself and 22 others into the red seats of a Beijing theatre.
‘Red Theatre’, was the third time Liu has made a group vanish, one of more than 100 ‘invisible works’ he has completed since 2005. It was inspired by his 2010 ‘red chair’ at Milan’s La Scala opera house, after which he also wanted to do it in China.
Lui originally used invisibility as a protest against the demolition of his studio when authorities razed an artists’ village in Beijing but then he fell in love with this way of presenting his ideas. And so has the world.