Skip to main content

Flexible paper sculptures bend skulls and minds

Flexible paper sculptures bend skulls and minds

Share this story

Li Hongbo is a Beijing-based artist who turns ordinary paper into extraordinary sculptures. In 2010, he created a flexible, Slinky-like sculpture of a female body out of nothing more than brown sheets of honeycombed paper, stacked together and molded into undulating forms. Li expanded upon that process earlier this year, with a new set of mind-bending sculptures displayed at the Dominik Mersch Gallery in Australia.

Li's Pure White Paper exhibit included several small sculptures, including a flexible skull, wooden cube, and tree branch. All were created entirely from paper, and all are equally jaw-dropping. A book editor and designer by trade, Li began by gluing together thousands of sheets to form a large block. He then carved and folded this block into various forms, drawing inspiration from traditional Chinese "paper gourd" toys and decorations. From a distance, the finished products look like typical porcelain or marble sculptures, but their original form suddenly dissipates once expanded, as demonstrated in the video below.

Uncoiling the accordion-like sculptures reveals their fibrous underpinnings, as well as the detailed folding and gluing that Li undertook while hand-building them. The effect on the viewer, meanwhile, is something out of the surreal. Within a matter of seconds, Li's skulls and busts transforms from static objects into bendable, Expressionist orbs, exposing the brilliant artifice of his work, and leaving observers in a state of awe.