Li Hongbo’s Incredible Paper Sculptures Imitate European Marble Busts

Li Hongbo has given the paper a whole new meaning. For him, the paper is a medium of expressing art and not merely for writing or making origami objects. He has truly reinvented paper to create sculptures that imitate European marble busts perfectly. The creations of this amazing paper sculptor certainly stretch the boundaries of imagination.

Hongbo requires a lot of paper for making classical sculptures. Just to give an idea, a single bust requires several thousand layers of paper, ranging between 7,000 to 26,000 sheets. He then meticulously glues them together, layer upon layer, in an alternate striped pattern. On stretching, this mound of glued sheets unfolds into a honeycomb concertina, which can be expanded, contracted, retracted, or distorted into various forms.

Since childhood, this Chinese-born artist was fascinated by paper and the lack of toys fueled this fascination. He proceeded to earn his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Jilin Normal University, Jilin, China, and also earned a double degree in Master of Fine Arts from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, China. It wasn’t surprising that he chose a career in book design and publishing as an adult, but went on to become an established paper sculptor.

Such is the popularity of his life-like paper sculptures that they’ve been displayed in many museums around the world in both solo and group exhibitions. His most recent one is a massive installation titled ‘A Sea of Flowers’ displayed at an exhibition at Today’s Art Museum in Beijing, held in July-August 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic.

What inspired him for this work, Hongbo shares on, “I was greatly inspired by the traditional Chinese paper lantern. It could be folded and was easy to carry around. From that, I saw the possibility of going from 2D to 3D….” This is what inspired his ‘A Sea of Flowers’.

Hongbo is a recipient of several prestigious awards, such as the Grand Prize from the Sovereign Asian Art Foundation, the Nomination Award from the Chinese Government, and many more. He has also published a book ‘A Piece of Paper’. He lives and works in Beijing, China.

Li Hongbo

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