Images of Liu Bolin, a famous Chinese artist commonly known as “the invisible man,” have gone viral in Japan.
Shared on Twitter and Japanese popular news portal Alfafa Mosaic, the pictures are selections from the 40-year-old Liu’s “Hiding in the City” series, a collection that has the artist covered fully in body paint, blending into the backgrounds behind him like a human chameleon.
“Amazing,” one netizen on Alfafa Mosaic wrote. “On some photos, you really have no idea where he is until you zoom in… This is some incredible photo trickery.”
“Is this the Chinese military’s stealth armour?” another joked, while others said that Liu’s photos were reminiscent of camouflage used in the science fiction Predator movies.
In reality, Liu Bolin has completed 100 “invisible” paintings in his “Hiding in the City” series over the past eight years, and the artist shot and composed the photo series in numerous cities across the globe, including New York and Venice.
Originally a Shandong native, Liu was inspired to create the series in 2005 when Beijing’s government bulldozed the city’s famous artist village Suo Jia Cun. After Liu’s studio was destroyed, the artist decided to investigate the theme of “invisibility” in his work as a means of bringing attention to the lack of protection that Chinese artists received from the government.
As his photos have evolved over the years and generated acclaim in international art circles, Liu has drawn inspiration from other controversial topics often discussed in modern Chinese society, including rapid urban development and uniformity.
“In China, people have maintained the red-themed uniformity lifestyle for a long time… They have even injected the uniformity of behaviour or thinking into their blood,” Liu previously told the Post in an interview last month. “I would like to question this issue…and tell the audience and people who have interest in my work that this issue has some problems.”