Li Hongbo’s sculptures appear to be ancient, marble and Greco-Roman, but are actually modern, paper and Asian, reports Elizabeth Yuan in The Wall Street Journal (1/21/14). "When people look at a box, they think it’s a box," says Hongbo, a Beijing artist. "But actually it can change into another thing … I want to change the image and how people see things, so they think in another way, and more deeply." To accomplish this, Hongbo "has expanded on the techniques used in paper-based folk art and the traditional Chinese paper toys he grew up with."
Starting with up to 8,000 sheets of paper, stacked and glued to approximate a block of marble, Hongbo uses band saws and angle grinders to create sculptures. The result looks like it’s made of solid rock, but when manipulated unfurls in layers "like a Slinky." A simple tug on a sculpture’s face reveals "an accordion of paper layers before reassuming its shape when returned to its resting state." (video) The effect is quite surprising to unsuspecting observers. Hongbo has done similar work with "brownish paper" that simulates "the qualities of wood."
Hongbo is a paper guy, having previously "worked as a book editor, publisher and an ancient books expert." "He’s really the perfect storm of paper," says Eli Klein of Klein Sun Gallery, which is hosting "nearly three dozen" of Hongbo’s works in an exhibition entitled, Tools of Study. Mara Williams of the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center sees humor in Hongbo’s art. "Looking to the big bad West for inspiration, it’s hysterical," she says. "These aren’t sculptures from the great Chinese past. They represent the cradle of Western democracy …there’s something sly about what he’s commenting on."