Chinese photographer Liu Bolin engaged in a live performance culminating in the creation of a new photographic self-portrait as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations in Rome on Thursday evening.
In his performance at Rome's Galleria Borghese, the artist stood before a 17th-century oil painting by Caravaggio called "Saint Jerome Writing", and had himself painted in the colors of the richly decorated wall and the frame of the painting, until he seemed to disappear into a corner of the canvas and into the wall itself.
Born in 1973 in Shandong province, China, Liu has achieved international fame for his work mixing body art, living sculpture, performance and photography, in which he camouflages himself with his surroundings in order to analyse the tensions between the individual and society, Galleria Borghese curators said.
In 2012, the Galleria Borghese commissioned Liu's first work in an Italian museum. The artist fused himself with the white marble statue of "Paolina Borghese as Venus Victrix" by 19th-century Neoclassical Italian sculptor Antonio Canova.
That self-portrait was part of a project called "Secret Tour", in which he used a mix of performance, painting and photography to merge his own image with those of symbolic Italian monuments and works of art.
Liu Bolin was chosen "to represent this edition of the Chinese New Year (as) the ideal glue linking China with fashion and with the Eternal City," according Rome Chinese New Year festivities organizers working in collaboration with the Chinese embassy, city authorities, and the Italy-China Foundation.
In related events, the capital paid homage to Chinese tourism by uniting art, fashion and luxury through a "diffused exhibition" of 30 photos by Liu Bolin displayed in luxury boutiques such as Bulgari, Bottega Veneta, Roberto Cavalli, and Missoni in the city's historic central district from Feb. 2-10.
"China is the first international buyer of Italian fashion and luxury," commented event organizer Andrea Amoruso. "So organizing an event for China that is linked to the world of luxury is an indispensable act of gratitude, whose objective is to offer a unique, tailor-made shopping experience for the Chinese market."
Liu Bolin, who currently resides and works in Beijing, earned his BA from Shandong College of Arts in 1995, and an MA from China's Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2001, where he studied under his mentor, the artist Sui Jianguo.
In 2015, Liu was commissioned by United Nations-backed campaign The Global Goals to create an image that conveyed 17 goals - such as ending poverty, sustainable development, and fighting inequality - where he hid himself within 193 flags of the world.
Liu Bolin's work has been displayed in numerous museums, galleries, and institutions around the world, and is included in highly prestigious individual, corporate, foundation, and museum collections worldwide. He is represented by galleries in China, France, Germany, and Italy.