Lifestyle & Belief

Watch Chinese artist Li Hongbo's mind-blowing take on classical sculpture

Li Hongbo, a former book editor from Beijing, does amazing things with paper.

"I discovered the flexible nature of paper through Chinese paper toys and paper lanterns," Li, 38, told Reuters. "Later, I used this principle to make a gun casually inverting a crude paper pistol into an elegant fan. A gun is solid, used for killing, but I turned it into a tool for play or decoration. In this way, it lost both the form of a gun and the culture inherent to a gun. It became a game."

He builds whimsical, strange, and beautiful sculptures by layering several thousand paper sheets — individually gluing each one to the next — until the stack is large enough to start shaping. Then he shaves, chisels, sands, and cuts. He's made amorphous blobs that stretch and twist, a large log that turns into a massively long worm, and many more things that are awesome.

More recently, Li has gone after a familiar form: the classical bust. The result is a mind-blowing reinvention of form and aesthetics. Solid marble gives way to light and moveable paper. Precise realism turns to abstraction. Our own staid contemplation of antiquity's iconic forms morphs into gleeful surprise at something totally new.

The only way these sculptures could get any cooler is if someone shot a slow-motion, ultra HD video — oh wait, somebody has? Awesome. Enjoy.

If you want more, here's the extended cut.

And here's some more video about Li Hongbo and his wonderful paper creations.