Chinese artist Liu Bolin makes enthralling hybrid art, deploying slick subliminal signals and inventive arrangements replete with smart commentary on contemporary China. His walloping canvases and photos are often peopled by youthful ruffians, pretty pedestrians, or the artist himself — all of whom take on a cunning, clandestine, camouflaged complexion. Liu’s images depict the disenfranchised, displaced, and invisible strivers ('the ant tribe,' as they're known in China), who struggle in a society laden with systemic risks, paradoxes, ideological schisms, and false dawns. His cool compositions display complex painterliness, vibrant viscosities, and optical oomph.
Amid a yawning spiritual-ideological vacuum, Bolin's art is powerful commentary on the Middle Kingdom’s frenetic social fabric. In the end, his works are multi-layered studies of the ways we take in imagery and express identity. Over the years he has captured major motifs in China’s turbulent socio-economic transition, among them industrialization, expropriation, nefarious apparatchiks, the nouveau riche. With series like Hiding in the City, The Invisible Man, and his latest eye-popping exhibit at Klein Sun Gallery in New York, A Colorful World, Liu Bolin creeps into ontological crevices, decoding and recoding art and life.