January 2014: I had the opportunity to see an amazing exhibition of sculptures by the Chinese artist Li Hongbo at the Klein Sun Gallery. Upon entering the gallery, one sees a room filled with what looks like classic marble sculpture, elaborate sculpted busts on pedestals throughout the gallery.
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But these sculptures are not made of marble, or plaster, or anything that you would ever expect ... they're made of paper! But still not what you would expect - each piece is carved out of a huge block of bound paper, so that the pieces can be pulled out like an accordian and stretched in different directions! With a technique influenced by his fascination with traditional Chinese decorations known as paper gourds — made from glued layers of paper — Li Hongbo applies a honeycomb-like structure to form remarkably flexible sculptures. I know it's hard to imagine, which is why we asked the art gallery assistant to help us demonstrate, as you will see in the video below. This piece is titled "Bust of David," based on Michelangelo's famous sculpture of David which is located in Florence, Italy.
The gallery's press release explains: "Utilizing his expert knowledge of paper's natural strengths and weaknesses, the artist has transformed the media to stretch, twist, elongate and retract as if it were a giant slinky. Through this juxtaposition of playful mobility and a traditional aesthetic, Li Hongbo breathes a unique life into his works that stuns and awes the viewer."
Li Hongbo was born in Jilin, China in 1974 and earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Jilin Normal University in 1996. He earned a Master of Fine Arts from the Folk Art Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 2002, as well as a Master of Fine Arts from the Experimental Art Department of Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 2010. His work has been exhibited in museums around the world. If you are reading this around the time that it is being published on Artsology - and if you live in the New York area - please note that you can see this exhibition up through March 2nd, 2014, at the Klein Sun Gallery, located at 525 West 22nd Street, New York, NY. Below are a few more views from the exhibition.
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