Date: Thursday 12 Dec, 2019 - Saturday 22 Feb, 2020
Time: 10:00 am - 07:00 pm
Venue: Maraya Art Centre, Al Qasba, Block (E), Third Floor (Maraya Art Gallery), United Arab Emirates

As part of the 22nd edition of Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival, Maraya Art Centre presents Bloom by Beijing-based sculptor Li Hongbo. The exhibition is curated by the Dubai-based curator Jolaine Frizzell, and acts as the artist’s first solo in the Gulf region.

For this exhibition, paper sculpture and traditional Chinese craft practices metamorphose in a manner that challenges viewers’ expectations from this bright field of colour. He brings a unique vision to an age-old honeycomb technique seen in paper gourd making in China. Thousands of objects transform from paper guns to flowers and unfold in full bloom, however, when you step back, you’ll see that the shapes amass into the form of guns and artillery. While this practice originates from folk tradition, it allows Li to allegorically propose that weapons must be disarmed for peace, and also shows how we can all experience beauty within the darkness of the world.

On the occasion of the Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival, Li was inspired by Islamic design traditions seen in tiling, carpets and mosaics and introduces a unique cross-cultural perspective. Li’s paper sculptures bring together craft traditions in China while finding inspiration in the proportion and symmetry of Islamic patterns and motifs.

Consisting of thousands of paper objects, that span Maraya Art Centre’s entire gallery space, Bloom belongs to the continuum of the historic tradition of paper and papermaking that is quintessential in Chinese culture. Auspicious lanterns and gourds made up of honeycomb paper is present in many aspects of everyday life in China from children’s toys to festive decorations. Li creates thousands of layers of paper stacked upon each other that come together like a slinky – holding both materiality and immateriality in tension as the object expands and contracts.