A Colorful World?

The Sinister Effects of Ubiquitous Advertising as Observed by Liu Bolin

Global issues of culture, society, and politics are all tackled in Liu Bolin’s solo exhibition at Klein Sun Gallery in New York. The Chinese born artist doesn’t shy away from the pressing topics of our time; taking on advertising, cancer, consumerism, junk food and even airport security as subjects of his sculptures, photography, and light-boxes. ‘It’s about my understanding of the world. I think people nowadays are mostly mesmerized and deceived by the world around them,’ Liu explained. ‘I want to warn/alert my audience through my visual works and help them understand the world (as I see it) correctly.’

The exhibition includes works such as MISSING- light boxes which incorporate portraits that fade in-and-out of view, against a backdrop of one hundred dollar bills and junk food—contextualizing the disappearance of the subjects as metaphors for issues within society.

Also on show is Liu’s renowned Hiding in the City series, in which he has painted himself into the background of carefully chosen scenes, and Cancer Village, in which he camouflages twenty-three individuals who have been affected by a 100% increase cancer-related mortality rates within their rural Chinese village.

‘I made the “camouflage series” because I was dealing with insomnia,’ he told us. ‘I was trying to disintegrate myself into a background, blending myself into it.’

Liu talked with us about his work:

The Plus: Do you feel a special connection with any particular work in the exhibition?

Liu Bolin: I would say I really love my most recent light box series. I think the work explores the relationship between reality and life through the lighting gradations, which reveal my emotions honestly.

TP:  Do you have any rituals or mantras, or a creative processes? 

LB:  It’s a two-way process where I filter the internet and social media – to stay informed. Another method is through extracting my own thoughts and reaction from within, solidifying and reinforcing these thoughts within myself. The angle in which I explore the world is the same, though it takes various forms such as photographs, paintings, performance, or light box works.

After I find a basic direction, I’ll seek to find an appropriate medium. For example, once I decided on a background in a city to use as part of my work, I will think about how to photograph it to achieve the effects I want to achieve; there’s a lot of conceptual effort involved. I also ponder a lot about how to improve the works I have already finished.

TP: Are you developing any future projects currently?

LB: In the future I think I’ll be looking at different religions’ effects on people’s pursuit of spirituality and the way it’s expressed, and, how it is integrated with the real world (society). I will express the relationship that I have observed in the ideas I have mentioned above. Specifically, I will be doing some performance pieces about the TSA security check process, and work on a drawing project involving Renault cars.