The SCAD Museum of Art presents “Irons for the Ages, Flowers for the Day,” a large-scale installation by Beijing-based sculptor Li Hongbo. Hongbo primarily uses handmade paper to create visually compelling and malleable sculptures that challenge the viewer’s perceptions of metamorphosis in sculpture.
Paper and papermaking have throughout history been quintessential to Chinese culture. The oldest known paper fragments in the world date back to the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.–220 A.D.). Paper slowly made its way to the Western world by way of the Silk Road, a trading network that connected the East and West. Hongbo’s work can be seen as part of this continuum, drawing from a rich formal and historic tradition. The artist’s fascination with paper and its history started coincidentally when he attended the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, as paper was a cheap and readily available resource. This ultimately developed into a focused analysis and engagement with the endless possibilities the medium offers as Hongbo progressed through his studies and established his career.
Building upon his expansive knowledge of paper’s natural strengths and weaknesses, Hongbo applies a honeycomb layer of adhesive between sheets of paper, creating a solid yet malleable structure that can stretch, twist, elongate and retract. Consisting of thousands of paper objects that span the entirety of Pamela Elaine Poetter Gallery of the SCAD Museum of Art, “Irons for the Ages, Flowers for the Day” examines the conflicts and damages of war and weapons. Hongbo recreates crude tools of war from brightly colored, honeycombed, laminated paper and reshapes them into delicate abstract forms resembling floral patterns. By removing all signs of destruction and chaos, the artist transforms the sinister intent of the weapon into a venerable landscape of flowers, evoking feelings of sublime optimism.
This exhibition is curated by Aaron Levi Garvey, SCAD assistant curator of exhibitions.
Daily admission to the exhibition is free for all SCAD students, faculty, staff and museum members. The exhibition is open to the public with the cost of museum admission.