For the March 2012 issue of Harper's Bazaar, noted fashion designers Gaultier, Valentino, Lanvin and Missoni teamed up with China's Invisible Man Liu Bolin for a stunning 10-page spread titled Lost in Fashion.
At first glance, you might not catch the designers vanishing into the background of Bolin's iconic photos.
Chinese artist Liu Bolin disappears into his photographs, making a powerful comment on the individual and society, Harper's Bazzar says in the spread. But his typical subject is himself. In his unique collaboration with Bazaar, celebrated designers lose themselves in their work.
Whether he's lurking on the side of a supermarket aisle or in front of a famous landmark, Bolin's made a name for himself by perfecting the art of invisibility.
Yet, Bolin's work is no magic and he is not a magician. Rather, the artist uses his work as a statement about man's relationship with his environment. Silently posing in front of each chosen scene, he becomes a blank canvas.
A graduate of the prestigious Sculpture Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in China, Bolin sees himself as an outsider whose artistic endeavors are not always valued, particularly in his native country.
In Chinese society's communistic dream, there must be majuscules (capital letters / big words) to tell and to clean the public's brain, creating the kind of people we need, Bolin told the International Business Times. When my body is covered and 'disappears,' it's not about the relationship between me and the wall, but the relationship between me as an 'individual' and those slogans which are used to fool the public.
In China, we get used to those slogans, he adds, so I want to use my work to remind people they have to think more about the environment where we live.
In 2005, Chinese authorities shut down his art studio in Beijing. It was the impetus for his Hiding in the City series, several years in the making.
Bolin typically takes 3-4 hours to complete the photo process, though the Bazaar shoot was an exception.
Normally the subject of his own photos, Bolin said I feel like I am fighting against my nature, fighting with life, and I have to stand in stillness for my faith and my ideals.
In his collaboration with Bazaar, Bolin turns his paintbrush on different subjects: Jean Paul Gaultier, Alber Elbaz and Angela Missoni.
Bolin hid each designer in his or her own designs for Bazaar, coating fashion elite in thick layers of paint.
I'm trying to deliver a message about the relationship of human beings to their environment, Bolin said. 'Environment' here can mean social, cultural, ecological, and so on. An individual today is more likely to be controlled by or even merged into their environment. I also want to emphasize and to draw people's attention to the relationship between the grand scale of cultural development and the role of a single individual.
To read the full IBTimes interview with Liu Bolin, CLICK HERE. To see more photos, head to HarpersBazaar.com or check out Bolin's highly anticipated 4th solo exhibition at Eli Klein Fine Art in New York on March 20, 2012.
Mark Johanson is the travel editor at the International Business Times. He has traveled to and written about more than 30 nations and territories on every continent except...