Saturday, 23 August 2014


As I entered the UB City Mall — the venue for Art Bengaluru 2014, 5th edition  my eyes fell on a Chinese man dressed in over-the-top trouser and shirt — it had magazines and book covers printed on it. Not exactly the attire one would wear for an art soiree! There were few people milling around him — in reverence. At that point of the evening, I did not know that this man was indeed the internationally renowned artist Liu Bolin, known as the ‘Invisible Man’. Bolin has turned ‘disappearing’ into an art form, incorportaing it into his art works.

This was Bolin’s first visit to India. The evening saw a live performance by the artist where he ‘disappeared into a book shelf’ — Ah! Now that explains his attire. Liu’s works have been exhibited in museums around the world and his most popular work — Hiding in the City series — has now grown out of China to include notable locations in France, Italy and New York. 

Liu Bolin at the Bengalure Art Festival, 2014
Bolin used to think he was meaningless. He suffered from severe depression for four years before finding solace in a life as a full-time artist. Like artists before him, Bolin says, his art is a way to express himself and "find meaning". Social politics has always been the main theme of his work. “My aim is to follow my instincts and wait to see what would happen. I still do not know if this directly relates to politics or not. I only know that I am speaking honestly,” he says.

Bolin’s tryst with performance-art-of-disappearing began in 2005 as a protest against the destruction of Suo Jia Cun — the largest congregation of artists in Asia — by the Chinese government. It was also Bolin’s home. His angst against the atrocity led him to create the series Hiding in the city. “I wanted to use my works to show that the artist and their living places had not been protected." 

This protest-art took on a life of its own.Soon Bolin began picking locations in China which represented the process of the country's development and he would carefully paint his body to camouflage himself into the chosen environment. He did this “so people will pay more attention to the background’s societal property by erasing the meaning of my body as an individual,” he says. 

Bolin's art always aims to find answers to questions such as How is the society developing? What are the societal problems? And most importantly where is China going? Through his art, Bolin has chosen for his body to be covered in paint and erased to express concern for contemporary China, which is an important theme in Bolin’s work.

The stillness of his body during the production of the work is a silent protest. “The insistence of my body and its resistance to movement and nature are both reflected in my work. I am fighting for freedom and for the social status of the artist with my body.”

Bolin’s iconic series along with another called Charger Series – Peony will be showcased at the Art Bengaluru festival, which is on till 30th August. Go check out this 'Invisible Man'.


Truth by Tran Quang Tru. Born in 1982, Souther Hanoi, Vietnam. Vibrant colour is the most important component in his work and the other being, each colour blends into the other in perfect harmony.

Sapa Girl by Lee Anh Dung. Born in 1971, Vietnam. His works constantly features Sapa or Highland girls with their unique features and brightly coloured clothes. He is known for his textured backgrounds.

This acrylic on canvas, Benares, by artist Paramesh Paul was striking. It has a certain luminescence and an almost 3D effect.   

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