Just stretch your imagination for a moment – Li Hongbo’s surprising sculptures go to show that in the world of art, what you see is not always what you get.
His surprising accordeon-like works are inspired by Chinese paper-based folk art and the traditional paper toys he grew up with.
“In the beginning, I discovered the flexible nature of paper through Chinese paper toys and paper lanterns. Later, I used this to make a gun. A gun is solid, used for killing, but I turned it into a toy or for decoration. In this way, it lost both the shape of a gun, and the inherent meaning of a gun. It was turned into a game,” says Li Hongbo.
To make his sculptures the artist uses a stencil to paste glue in narrow strips across large pieces of paper which he then sticks together to form a block. He stacks up the blocks, before cutting, chiselling and sanding them down to the desired shape.
“‘Strange’ and ‘unsettling’ are just words used by some people to describe my work. In fact, people have a fixed idea of what a human should look like, so when you transform a human shape, people will reconsider the nature of objects and the motivation behind the creation. This is what I care about,” says the artist.
‘Tools of Study’, Li Hongbo’s first solo exhibition in the United States, is on at the Klein Sun Gallery in New York until early March.