Liu Bolin

Chinese, 1973–present

While some birds have colourful plumage, others have elaborate camouflage patterns. In Liu Bolin’s case, his camouflage art paradoxically increases his visibility. Given nicknames such as The Invisible Man and The Human Chameleon, he spends hours doing painstaking make-up that transforms himself into part of the background. One of Liu’s signature images shows the artist standing in front of the Great Wall, perfectly made up like a grey brick work with a green head matching the lush hills in the background. He has equally camouflaged himself into words from the Communist Manifesto scribbled on a wall, and to an earthquake rubble in China.

Liu’s purpose is to illustrate his isolation as a contemporary artist in China, and how he has  been increasingly ostracized by the Communist party in recent years in an effort to silence his artistic expression. Not only is his effacing an effective method of protesting, it carries a philosophical message as in conveying all the anxiety Liu feels for human beings.

Since 2006, his work Hiding in the City has been exhibited across the world.