Liu Bolin – The Invisible Artist

Liu Bolin – The Invisible Artist

Liu Bolin, a young Beijing-based artist, has become known as the “invisible man” due to his ability to use his own body as an art material. The chameleon paints on himself, appearing to blend in with the backdrop.

liu_bolinLiu Bolin, was born in Shandong in 1973, graduated from the Art Department of Shandong Arts Institute with a bachelor degree in 1995, and in the year of 2001, he graduated from the Sculpture department of Central Academy of Fine Arts with a master degree.

Liu Bolin’s main areas in sculpture, photography, painting, etc. when he is a student, he have had many Exhibitions for his own works before the idea of camouflage art.

Until in the year of 2005, Mr Liu decided to do some works to protest against the government, who shut down his art studio.

In 2008, a series works named “hiding in the city” shocked the world. Inspired by how some animals can blend into their environment, Liu Bolin uses camouflage principles to create amazing contemporary art.

This series is an exploration of human nature and animal instincts which features Chinese citizens painted to blend into their surroundings. The subjects are covered head to toe in paint, camouflaging themselves in any surroundings, no matter how difficult they might be. Liu works on a single photo for up to 10 hours at a time, to make sure he gets it just right, but he achieves the right effect.

artist_liu bolin

The procedures of these photos:

  1. Put on a set of training uniform of 50 yuan, bare skin covered with sticky female mask;
  2. Choose a representative environment;
  3. Standing at the right place motionless, so that assistants paint patterns what are matching the environment in his body;
  4. Take photos.

No trick photography or Photoshop is used to create the illusion of an invisible man.


These awesome shots show him barely visible among his surroundings, including bulldozers, flags, buildings and signs. A perfectionist, Bolin often works on a single photograph for hours, shocking many passers-by when he finally moves.


Bolin said his inspiration came from feeling like a social outcast: People In the community cannot find suitable position, without social relations, and no one care for your fate, in a period of time feel like they are redundant people; they are invisible to the society. Mr Liu says his work is also a protest against the government, who shut down his art studio in 2005.

Liu Bolin – The Invisible Artist

“Some people call me the invisible man, but for me it’s what is not seen in a picture which is really what tells the story,” Mr Bolin told the UK’s Telegraph. “I experienced the dark side of society, without social relations, and had a feeling that no one cared about me, I felt myself unnecessary in this world. These photographs are a kind of silent power, in the photo where he was standing, but there is a silent protest, the struggle for survival of the environment and for the fate.

Now he came to Chengdu, he said he would like to create new works, to express condolences to the earthquake victims before the ruins of the earthquake.

art_liu bolin

In fact, Liu Bolin is also a sculptor, he also have good achievement in that area.

“Red Hand”, that is a series started in July 2007 from the creation of sculpture, by the enthusiastic response to the Western market, Liu Bolin is famous. In the Works, some red or white boy with his eyes covered. Liu Bolin use Chromic and smooth material, in a positive posture.

In the photos, man become invisible, in the red hands, have become blind. Liu Bolin creates a vivid looks like an interesting world, but in fact it is not so gentle, it reflects a generation after the Cultural Revolution, he himself being one of them. Liu Bolin thinks that he is more realistic rather than an idealistic artist, able to visualize the emotional confusion.

Selected Exhibitions

2008            “Hide and Seek” (solo), Boxart Gallery, Verona, Italy

2008            “Being”Contemporary art Exhibition, Jinan, Shandong province, China

2008            Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition, Liverpool, Great Britain

2008            “Force-Form” International Comtemporary Art Exhibition, 798 Art Zone, Beijing, China

2008            The Converted-Image Dax Art Space, Beijing, China

2008            Roma International Contemporary and Modern art Center of international Exhibition, Roma, Italy

2008            International Art Exhibition Sunshine Museum, Songzhuang Art Zone, Beijing, China

2008            Bertin–Toublanc Gallery, Paris, France (solo)

2008            798 Art Zone, Beijing, China (solo)

2008             Bridge Art Center, Beijing, China (solo)

2008             Adler Gallery, Paris, France (solo)

2008             Ifa Gallery, Shanghai, China (solo)

2008             Eli Klein Gallery, New York, USA (solo)

2007            Bertin–Toublanc Gallery, Miami, USA (solo)

2007            Sculpture Exhibition, Hotsun Art Space, 798 Art Zone, Beijing, China (solo)

2007            ‘Distortion’ Exhibition, Hotsun Art Space, 798 Art Zone, Beijing, China (solo)

2007            Photo Exhibition, Bertin-Toublanc Gallery Paeis, France (solo)

2007            Modern China: Lost in Transition, Eli Klein Gallery, New York, USA

2007            Computer Men Art Exhibition, Seasons Gallery, Beijing, China

2007            “Far Away From City” Photography Group Exhibition, Ifa Contemporary Art Center, Shanghai, China

2007            Song Zhuang Art Festival-2007 Chinese Visual Files, Songzhuang Art Zone, China

2007            Cooperation-Group Exhibition of Chinese and Chile Artists, No.1 Art Base Beijing, China

2007            Made in Beijing–Chinese Contemporary Art, Korea

2007            Olympic Sculptures International Exhibition, Millennium Monument, Beijing, China

2007            “Memory” Contemporary Art Exhibition, New York Art Center,798 Art Zone Beijing, China

2007            Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition, New Gallery, Houston, USA

2007            ARLES International Photo Exhibition, Arles, France

2007            United Exhibition of Communities at the foot of the Great Wall, Red Gate Gallery, Beijing, China

2007            Made in China–Chinese Contemporary Art, Duolun Museum of Modem Art, Shanghai, China

2007            “Union” Exhibition of Chinese and Overseas Artists, No.1 Art Base, Beijing, China

2007            “Union in June” Chinese Performance Art Exhibition, Songzhuang Art Zone, Beijing, China

2007            “China Dream” Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition, Adler Gallery, Paris, France

2007            “Back” United Exhibition of Three Artist, Hotsun Art Space, Beijing, China

2007            “After…”Contemporary Art Exhibition, New Art Project 798 Art Zone Beijing, China

2007            China Modern Art Exhibition, Mediterranea Gallery, Palemo, Italy

2007            Resetting—Suo Jia Village Contemporary Art Exhibition, Suojia Village, Beijing, China

2007            “Review Exhibition of Chinese Performance Art Photos”, Ying Gallery, 798 Art Zone, Beijing, China

2007            “Off center Generation—Post-1970s Group Exhibition” 751 Space, 798 Art Zone, Beijing, China

2007             The First “Breathing” Shan Dong Contemporary Art Great Exhibition, Jinan, Shandong province, China

2006             China Contemporary Art Exhibition, Bertin-Toublanc Gallery, Paris, France

2006             The Second“impact power”Contemporary Art Exhibition, Songzhuang Art Zone, Beijing, China

2006             “Visit by yourself” Exhibition, Songzhuang Art Zone, Beijing, China

2006              Beijing View Exhibition, Ner Art Project Dashanzi Art Zone, Beijing, China

2006              Satellite Exhibition, Shanghai, China

2006              Qingzhou International Contemporary Art Exhibition, Qingzhou Museum , Shandong , China

2006              Asia Contemporary Art Exhibition, Korea

2006             “Redstar,Redstar,Redstar”Contemporary Art Exhibition, Red Star Gallery Dashanzi Art Zone Beijing, China

2006              Nan Jing “Reference inside and outside” Exhibition, Nanjing, China

2006              “Demolish-CHINA”Beijing Contemporary Art Exhibition 751 Factory, Dashanzi Art Zone, Beijing, China

2006              Sculpture Exhibition for 2008 Olympic Jintai Museum, Beijing, China

2006              Opening of Beijing Distillery Art studio, Beijing Wine Factory Art Zone, China

2006             “grey and red” Contemporary Art Exhibition, Dashanzi Art Zone, Beijing, China

2005             Contemporary Art Exhibition of Dismantle at Xiyuantianlu Business Hall, Beijing, China

2005             Beijing Calligraphy Exhibition, Must be Art Centre, Dashanzi Art Zone, Beijing, China

2005             Luxury times — Tianjin Harbour Plaza Cheung Chau Chinese Contemporary Sculpture Exhibition, Tianjin, China

2005             “dismantle -dismantle–dismantle” Contemporary Art Exhibition of Beijing Suojia Village International Arts Camp – Beijing, China

2001             “Life is Beautiful” — 2001 West Lake International Sculpture Exhibition, Hangzhou Art Museum , China

2001             The Second Invited Sculpture Works Exhibition of Contemporary Young Sculptor, Hangzhou Art Museum, China

2001             The First Sculpture Competition Exhibition, Fujian, China

2001             Exhibition of Sculpture, Peking Passage, Beijing (solo)

2000             The 2nd Invited Sculpture Exhibition of Contemporary Young Sculptor, Hangzhou

2000             Works Exhibition of the First Sculpture Competition China

1999             Work “Embroidery Shoe” was registered “New Reinforcements of Art – after 70’s Born Artist” album

1999             The Second Metals Work Exhibition, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing

1998             Haiyang Works Exhibition, Shandong province, China (solo)


Try and see if you’re able to spot the Invisible Artist, Liu Bolin in a series of pictures below.


liu bolin_3







liu bolin_1
A cheeky photo of Liu Bolin standing in front of Mao’s portrait at the Tiananmen Square.


雕塑   diāo sù       Sculpture

伪装   wěi zhuāng      camouflage

当代艺术    dāng dài yī shù    contemporary art

抗议   kàng yì       protest

现实主义    xiàn shí zhǔ yì              Realistic

理想主义    lǐ xiǎng zhǔ yì           Idealistic

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