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    “However understandable and self-contained everything seems, that is accompanied by an obscure feeling that it is only half the story. Something is not quite
    in balance (...)."
    - Robert Musil, The Man without Qualities

    Li Hongbo's sculptures are never what they appear to be at first sight. The artist loves playing with ambiguity. His work renders tangible this otherwise abstract idea that reality is always questionable, that what we see with our own eyes is always in fine an interpretation. That all, in fact, is illusion.

  • THE QUESTION OF PERCEPTION

    Li Hongbo, Stones, 2021, paper and pigments, variable dimensions

    THE QUESTION OF PERCEPTION

    “False is true when true is also false, nothing is there and there is nothing."

    - Cao Xueqin, Dream of the Red Chamber

    That perception is prone to being deceived is an idea that runs through all of Li Hongbo’s work. “I don’t know what standards to use to measure the things before my eyes, which often baffles me. Is it my eyes, or my perception, or my knowledge system that are wrong... In fact, we stand in different ‘places’, and it is difficult to distinguish right from wrong.”

  • Celebrating ambiguity

    Li Hongbo, Beech - Wood Series, 2021, paper and pigments, 128 x 22 x 12cm

    Celebrating ambiguity

    Li Hongbo’s paper sculptures can accommodate all sorts of shapes. They can bend. They can stretch like accordions. Their flexibility is key to challenging and engaging the viewer. “When you change the external form of an object, people will reconsider the material itself and the creative motivation behind it.” To reconsider, to muse over the materials and the artist’s motives is part of the aesthetic experience proposed to the viewer. Uncertainty and ambiguity become a playground where information can be shared, where emotions can be felt.

     

    “Considering carefully the interweaving of psychology and vision, this world is the source of many ambiguities and misunderstandings. How to acknowledge this beautiful error is a question that I am most interested in."

    - Li Hongbo

  • Li Hongbo, Young Boy, 2016, paper, 17 x 20 x 30cm
  • A UNIQUE TECHNIQUE

    Li Hongbo, Baronesse Sipiere, 2021, paper, 42cm

    A UNIQUE TECHNIQUE

     

    Li Hongbo is best known for his works of paper designed after a technique inspired by so-called honeycomb lanterns, which are traditionally seen during Chinese festivities and have been used since the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220). Upon close examination, the artist realized that these lanterns have interesting properties. On top of their flexibility, they are quite robust and can easily be folded back into their initial shape. Expanding on this technique, Li developed a process that consists in stacking and gluing together thousands of sheets of paper which he then carves like a block of marble, using a circular saw to start with, then a small grinder, then sandpaper. On average the sculptures of Li Hongbo are made of about 20 000 sheets of paper, though that number can be much higher for larger pieces.

    • Li Hongbo Fortune and Peace, 2018 Paper 50 x 25 x 23 cm 19 3/4 x 9 7/8 x 9 1/8 in
      Li Hongbo
      Fortune and Peace, 2018
      Paper
      50 x 25 x 23 cm
      19 3/4 x 9 7/8 x 9 1/8 in
    • Li Hongbo Taihu Stone, 2021 Paper 68 x 26 x 26 cm 26 3/4 x 10 1/4 x 10 1/4 in
      Li Hongbo
      Taihu Stone, 2021
      Paper
      68 x 26 x 26 cm
      26 3/4 x 10 1/4 x 10 1/4 in
    • Li Hongbo Pine Wood - Wood Series, 2021 Paper, pigments 138 x 23 x 11 cm 54 3/8 x 9 1/8 x 4 3/8 in
      Li Hongbo
      Pine Wood - Wood Series, 2021
      Paper, pigments
      138 x 23 x 11 cm
      54 3/8 x 9 1/8 x 4 3/8 in
    • Li Hongbo Innocence - Textbook Series , 2021 Textbooks 66 x 31 x 21 cm 26 x 12 1/4 x 8 1/4 in
      Li Hongbo
      Innocence - Textbook Series , 2021
      Textbooks
      66 x 31 x 21 cm
      26 x 12 1/4 x 8 1/4 in
    • Li Hongbo Baronesse Sipiere I, 2021 Paper 65 x 45 x 28 cm 25 5/8 x 17 3/4 x 11 1/8 in
      Li Hongbo
      Baronesse Sipiere I, 2021
      Paper
      65 x 45 x 28 cm
      25 5/8 x 17 3/4 x 11 1/8 in
    • Li Hongbo Young Boy, 2016 Paper 17 x 20 x 30 cm 6 3/4 x 7 7/8 x 11 3/4 in
      Li Hongbo
      Young Boy, 2016
      Paper
      17 x 20 x 30 cm
      6 3/4 x 7 7/8 x 11 3/4 in
    • Li Hongbo Little Girl, 2016 Paper 17 x 20 x 17 cm 6 3/4 x 7 7/8 x 6 3/4 in
      Li Hongbo
      Little Girl, 2016
      Paper
      17 x 20 x 17 cm
      6 3/4 x 7 7/8 x 6 3/4 in
    • Li Hongbo Ares I, 2021 Paper 42 x 34 x 32 cm 16 1/2 x 13 3/8 x 12 5/8 in
      Li Hongbo
      Ares I, 2021
      Paper
      42 x 34 x 32 cm
      16 1/2 x 13 3/8 x 12 5/8 in
  • "Life is as fragile as paper."

    (Chinese proverb)

  • REPRESENTING THE BODY

    Li Hongbo, Innocence - Textbook Series, 2021, textbooks, 66 x 31 x 21cm

    REPRESENTING THE BODY

     

    Li Hongbo learned drawing the academic way, going to art school and studying antique busts and statues. This left him with the desire to infuse movement into these models. “The static models of my past were unchanging and without emotion. My school drawings allowed me to create my first plaster sculptures that were identical to the classical models. But the static aspect of these artworks was bothering me.” By making sculptures that can be moved in an infinite number of ways, Li Hongbo has invented a whole new way of representing the body. “The human form is probably what is most familiar to us. It is natural for me to create art around this universal theme. When I stretch a sculpture, the public is surprised by the new possibilities allowed to the human body, and this opens a vacuum in our perception of our own body. For example: it is impossible for us to bend our joints backward, but my sculptures can be propped in every way one can imagine. It can create a feeling of discomfort or exaltation for the viewer. This kind of feeling would be different if it wasn’t touching upon the physical integrity of the human body.

  • Li Hongbo, Knife, 2018

    Li Hongbo

    Knife, 2018 Stainless steel, copper
    35 x 9.8 x 1.7 cm
    13 3/4 x 3 7/8 x 5/8 in
    Edition of 6
  • "When I stretch a sculpture, the public is surprised by the new possibilities allowed to the human body, and this opens a vacuum in our perception of our own body."

    - Li Hongbo

    • Li Hongbo Knife, 2018 Stainless steel, copper 35 x 9.8 x 1.7 cm 13 3/4 x 3 7/8 x 5/8 in Edition of 6
      Li Hongbo
      Knife, 2018
      Stainless steel, copper
      35 x 9.8 x 1.7 cm
      13 3/4 x 3 7/8 x 5/8 in
      Edition of 6
    • Li Hongbo L'Enfant au Chapeau, 2016 Paper 20 x 27 x 41 cm 7 7/8 x 10 5/8 x 16 1/8 in
      Li Hongbo
      L'Enfant au Chapeau, 2016
      Paper
      20 x 27 x 41 cm
      7 7/8 x 10 5/8 x 16 1/8 in
    • Li Hongbo Stones, 2018 Paper, pigments Variable dimensions
      Li Hongbo
      Stones, 2018
      Paper, pigments
      Variable dimensions
    • Li Hongbo Elm - Wood Series , 2021 Paper, pigments 135 x 24 x 12 cm 53 1/8 x 9 1/2 x 4 3/4 in
      Li Hongbo
      Elm - Wood Series , 2021
      Paper, pigments
      135 x 24 x 12 cm
      53 1/8 x 9 1/2 x 4 3/4 in
    • Li Hongbo No Spare Time - Textbook Series , 2021 Textbooks 66 x 31 x 21 cm 26 x 12 1/4 x 8 1/4 in
      Li Hongbo
      No Spare Time - Textbook Series , 2021
      Textbooks
      66 x 31 x 21 cm
      26 x 12 1/4 x 8 1/4 in
    • Li Hongbo Beech - Wood Series, 2021 Paper, pigments 128 x 22 x 12 cm 50 3/8 x 8 5/8 x 4 3/4 in
      Li Hongbo
      Beech - Wood Series, 2021
      Paper, pigments
      128 x 22 x 12 cm
      50 3/8 x 8 5/8 x 4 3/4 in
  • With movement, Li's works become awake.

    Credits: Kid Guy Collective
  • PAPER AT THE CORE

    Li Hongbo, Elm - Wood Series, 2021, paper and pigments, 135 x 24 x 12cm

    PAPER AT THE CORE

     

    A former book publisher, Li Hongbo was always interested in paper and its connection to education, knowledge, and culture in general. Xuan paper, or rice paper as it is sometimes called, has been used for centuries for painting and calligraphy, playing an essential role in Chinese art. “Paper is an important part of China’s cultural heritage,” he notes. “It’s had a huge effect on civilisation, but it still has more to say.

    In his reappropriation of paper and of the honeycomb lantern technique, Li Hongbo contributes to the elaboration of a new paradigm for Chinese contemporary art. For Chinese artist Xu Bing: “The role of the artist is to impart, through his artistic language, a better understanding of our contemporary world. Li’s experiments with paper show the creativity of a new generation of Chinese artists.”

  • NATURE, AN ENDLESS SOURCE OF INSPIRATION

    Li Hongbo, Taihu Stone, 2021, paper, 68 x 26 x 26cm

    NATURE, AN ENDLESS SOURCE OF INSPIRATION

     

    Nature is ever-present in Li Hongbo’s work. Stones and trees are represented in all shapes and sorts, and Li’s exhibition are often imbued with a bucolic atmosphere. For this exhibition, the artist has produced a complex sculpture in the form of a taihu stone, also known as Chinese scholars’ rock, rare stone (gongshi), or fantastic stone (guaishi). These stones typically come from Lake Tai in Jiangsu province, where after being perforated they are immersed in the lake and exposed to the erosive actions of water, waves, and sand, sometimes for hundreds of years. When the rocks are harvested, the perforations often appear to be natural, and Taihu rocks have been likened to miniature cosmic mountains with heavenly grottoes and fantastic peaks. Collected and treasured since early times, these rocks are sometimes large and are often placed in gardens, such as those in the city of Suzhou.

  • Li Hongbo was born in 1974 in Jilin Province, in the north of China. He graduated from the Normal School...

    Li Hongbo was born in 1974 in Jilin Province, in the north of China. He graduated from the Normal School of Fine Arts in Jilin and the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. His work has been shown in galleries around the world and in prestigious institutions such as the Sydney Biennale, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Yinchuan, Today Art Museum in Beijing, Musée des Beaux-Arts (BAM) Mons, Toronto Centre for the Art, National Art Museum of China in Beijing, The Dennos Museum in Traverse City, Michigan, and the Minsheng Art Museum in Beijing. His work is in the public collections of the White Rabbit Collection, Maitland Regional Art Gallery, Artemizia Foundation, Dr. Stanley Ho Foundation, Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Musée du Papier, Asian Civilization Museum, National Art Museum of China, Wuhan Art Museum, United Bank of Switzerland, Hubei Art Museum, Wuhan, Shandong Art Museum, 53 Art Museum and Found Museum. He currently lives in Beijing.

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