Liu Bolin: Invisible artist

Liu Bolin Invisible Man

While scientists still haven’t developed an invisibility cloak for anything bigger than a paperclip, artist Liu Bolin has been making himself invisible for years. The only drawback of his method is that it’s rather slow. The 38-year-old often spends up to 10 hours at a time being painted from head to toe, enabling him to merge almost seamlessly with his chosen background. Then he takes a photo of it, and goes home for a shower.

Liu Bolin Graffiti

His invisibility technique might not win him any government defence contracts, but Bolin does produce quite amazing photographs. He was inspired to create the series, entitled Hiding in the City, when the Chinese government shut down his art studio in 2005. Still, Bolin does not describe himself as a dissident and claims he has never suffered from government censorship – although a publisher of his catalogue of works did refuse to print the following image:

Liu Bolin Mao

Not surprising, really.

Bolin admits that he is personally seeking to hide away, yet paradoxically it is invisibility that has gained him such exposure. While he might wish to secret himself from view, he perhaps does not want the same for his art, or his message:

The silencing of art is a kind of social death.

– Liu Bolin

Liu Bolin Dragon

Liu Bolin Ruins

Liu Bolin Cinema

Liu Bolin Venice

Liu Bolin Supermarket

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Liu Bolin has been doing his Hiding in the City series since 2005. It started as a political commentary on the tensions between the Chinese government and their people and the identity an environment gives an individual and vice versa. Liu Bolin will be exhibiting at Eli Klein Fine Art in New York from June 29 – August 28, 2011. Eli Klein Fine Art represents him exclusively in North and South America. More images can be found on