Ends This Saturday: Don’t Miss Li Hongbo’s Tools of Study at Klein Sun Gallery!

Chelsea art gallery assistant pulling up Li Hongbo's porcelain bust to reveal that it's made of thousands of layers of soft paper

I've seen a lot of strange and amazing things behind Chelsea's frosted gallery doors over the years, but Li Hongbo's incredible paper sculptures might go down as the oddest, most delightful surprise of all time. Now on display at the Klein Sun Gallery, Hongbo's exhibition, titled Tools of Study, appears to be simply a room filled with ordinary, albeit ably-executed porcelain busts of the ancient and famous. There's a recognizable David, for example, as well as other Greco-Roman sex symbols, and several of those bearded philosophers and literary-looking types from Europe of long ago.

Nothing unusual so far… Until a gallery assistant grabs one of these "stone" works and stretches it up and pulls and twists and suddenly your perspective changes completely and solids are anything but. It's stunning and slightly discomfiting and technically magnificent, and if you can get to Klein Sun before the show closes next Saturday, you will not be disappointed. 

Before and after shot of one of Li Hongbo's paper sculptures, one image of the sculpture in whole, the other being pulled up showing the layers of paper

How Hongbo's Paper Sculptures Are Made

Each of Hongbo's pieces are made from thousands of layers of soft white paper–literally thousands. Hongbo often spend months on a single sculpture, attaching each layer of paper together in such a way that they can expand to enormous lengths and then retract back into a completely seamless-looking whole. One of the gallery demonstrators told me that each bust weighs about 40 pounds, and in interviews Hongbo, he has said that the trickiest part was getting the mass and center of gravity, exactly right, so that it accordions easily back it into a "solid" and sits content when at rest. Adding to the wonderful weirdness is the fact the white paint and honeycombed layers give Hongbo's creations a sticky, marshmallow feel. Here is two short videos, but believe me, it's even cooler in person… 

More Information: Li Hongbo's Tools of Study

Li Hongbo's Tools of Study will be at Chelsea's Klein Sun Gallery through this Saturday, March 1. Klein Sun is located on 22nd Street between 10th and 11th Avenues and is open on Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Chelsea art gallery assistant twisting back Li Hongbo's bust sculpture to show the layers of soft paper that its made out of

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