Chinese body painting artist Liu Bolin explores the concept of ‘art hacking’ through reinterpreting two of the world’s most famous paintings with human figures as canvases, and manipulating image search results on Google and Baidu to replace the originals with his own. Dozens of painstakingly painted human bodies faithfully recreate both Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Pablo Picasso’s Guernica with all subjects remaining perfectly still to complete the illusion for a photo.
The two works of art are juxtaposed with an image depicting the devastating Tianjin explosion at a container storage station in 2015, and large-scale prints of the three photographs are currently on display at Klein Sun Gallery as part of the Art Hacker exhibition. Neon signs hung throughout the space display URLs so visitors can see the internet ‘hacking’ aspect of the show.
Bolin is best known for his ‘disappearing acts’ carried out through camouflaging himself and additional models into urban environments around the world. This is his first foray into the digital realm, but the questions he raises in his work continue to work within similar themes.
“Recreating the imagery of human suffering and devastation of war symbolized in the painting Guernica, Liu Bolin’s relives the history of the Spanish civil war, making a plea for humanity and freedom,” says the Klein Sun Gallery in a statement about the exhibition. “In Mona Lisa (2016), Liu Bolin imbeds himself into the masterpiece as well as its historical legacy. Touching upon the fact that the world was stolen from the Louvre more than 100 years ago, Liu Bolin aims to reenact the ‘disappearing and reappearing’ of the work through techniques behind the network.”
“Provocatively challenging the viewer to question what is above and beneath the surface, the work intends to reflect upon the complex relationship between the past and present, the reality and the illusion, as well as individuality and history.”