A resource site for visual art teachers and secondary students completing their HSC in the Visual Arts
Li Hongbo, born 1974 Siping City Jilin, China, Lives and works in Beijing.
Li Hongbo creates artworks as sculptural forms entirely out of paper. Taking his inspiration from the honeycomb forms created through traditional Chinese techniques often used in Chinese festive decorations and children’s toys known as ‘paper gourd’ which create story telling shapes and symbols from a stack of interconnected sheets. Li Hongbo originally started out working in an advertising company before studying at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts within the Experimental Arts Department.
Hongbo’s artworks are created using just paper and glue. Figures, portraits, trees and vases stretch out into concertina forms creating new representations through shape, pattern and texture. One such work is the installation, Ocean of Flowers(2012), the installation contains thousands of brightly coloured honeycomb shapes, set out as a magical landscape for the viewer to explore, however, when the flowers are flattened (flat packed) their shapes resemble guns such as pistols and AK 47s. The artwork is designed so that the viewer is not instantly aware of what the flowers represent, drawing the audience into something beautiful only to find out that the flowers are actually weapons of war. Experimenting with the creation of art through just one simple, everyday material, Hongbo ignites and captivates the viewers own imagination through his abstract, curving forms.
Desire causes damage, damage results in hatred, hatred accumulates conflicts, conflict leads to war. Weapons are for war, not merely defend yourself but also to annihilate others. However all people are born of lust and destroyed by the same thing. This is the formation of blood and tears from thousands of years of human history and suffering, but also as the result. The ‘flower’ in my work looks so bright and grandstanding, whether people can really comprehend the damage hidden behind it. When the muzzle points to any creature, no matter for what purpose, it represents the end of life or a painful struggle. We are all losers when the fall of lives reveal in our sight. Where there is a life, strong or weak, long or short, large or small, coarse or fine, near or far, visible or invisible, born or to be born, all should be lived with infinite kindness and a heart to love. Do not do harm to others because of your own selfishness. The designer of AK47 once said that the purpose of manufacturing weapons is always for self-defence, not to kill. If this principle can be widely accepted, the world will not need weapons.
– Li Hongbo’s Artist Statement on Ocean of Flowers (2012)
“Paper—you can never predict what it will become in the end.”
– Li Hongbo
“I realised it’s really quite simple… Yet the flexibility in terms of shape and properties is amazing.”