On first look, these busts appear to be carved out of porcelain or perhaps fine white marble, but actually they are made of thousands of layers of paper glued together. With a single tug of his head, the sculpture's face stretches and distorts to reveal an accordion of paper layers. When returned to its resting state the sculpture reassumes its shape. This is the work of Beijing artist Li Hongbo, and his one-of-a-kind paper busts has been stunning audiences wherever they are displayed.
A book editor and designer, Li Hongbo became fascinated by traditional Chinese toys and festive decorations known as paper gourds made from glued layers of thin paper which can be stored flat but then opened to reveal a flower or other shape. He applied the same honeycomb-like paper structure to his sculptures creating forms that are both sturdy and flexible like a slinky.
Mr. Li first lays sheets of paper one by one attaching each with glue at specific points to create a honeycomb pattern. Each sheet is glued individually by hand until he had created a small block. He then uses a woodworking saw to create the initial cuts, discarding excess paper and reducing the area of the block into the form he’s striving for. For the finer features, he uses an angle grinder that allows him to achieve greater detail. He puts the finishing touches on the sculpture with sandpaper.
Each bust comprises roughly 7,000 to 8,000 sheets of paper and weighs about 30 pounds.
Li Hongbo has exhibited his sculptures in various museums around the world. Early this year, his paper busts were exhibited at Klein Sun Gallery in New York where it sold off at prices ranging from $10,000 to $48,000 per piece.
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