A part yet apart: Liu Bolin ‘Hiding in Florence’

A part yet apart: Liu Bolin ‘Hiding in Florence’

The internationally renowned artist 'disappears' in front of famous Florentine monuments.

Fri 01 Sep 2023 12:09 PM

On display in Palazzo Vecchio’s Sala d’Arme until September 18, keep an eye out for the “invisible man,” Liu Bolin (Shandong, 1973), blended into some well-known backdrops. The Hiding in Florence project was carried out in 2022, created in collaboration with the Municipality of Florence and promoted by Galleria Gaburro, and features piazza della Signoria, the Marucelliana Library, the Uffizi Galleries and Palazzo Vecchio as part of the wider series, Hiding in Italy, which sees (or rather, doesn’t see) him in Milan, Venice, Verona, Rome and Caserta.

The internationally renowned artist has “disappeared” in front of many monuments all over the world, as well as in front of supermarket shelves, mountains of waste and in the midst of masses of migrants. His process of hiding, “to become a thing among things”, seeks to vanish within the whole, causing us to question being and not being, and what is known and yet not known.

Famous Florentine monuments are made mysterious by the artist who stares at us intently, yet it may take us a minute to see him. Rigid rules of geometric perspective are adhered to in order not to be seen (at a first distracted glance), inspired by the drawing method that was invented here in Florence in the early 15th century. The artist has long been passionate about the cradle of the Renaissance, as curator Marco Bazzini noted, “just like those travellers who came to Italy on the Grand Tour, Liu Bolin could not resist stopping in Florence”.  

The exhibition features a video detailing the behind-the-scenes, with each work explored and finished significantly with the artist shedding his camouflage and re-emerging into the world. Known as the “art chameleon,” the performative experience is evidenced in the clips, revealing how painting, sculpture, photography and installation merge in the works.

City councillor for Culture Alessia Bettini commented, “Through absence, he evokes archetypes that induce the viewers to question themselves when faced with the dichotomy between visibility and existence, a relationship that is becoming more and more difficult in modern society because of the way people interact with each other in the social structures that they have built for themselves, but also because of humankind’s relationship with space and nature”.

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