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Chinese artist Li Hongbo is known for creating sculptures out of unexpected materials. We last saw him making deceptive sculptures from folded paper. He”s back with his latest collection of sculptures in a series he calls Shadow of Knives. His new work features average-looking kitchen knives and cleavers with blades that were cut and folded into surprising, intricate sculptures.

Some of the knives are regular-sized, while some are massive, measuring up to six-and-a-half feet in length. The knife sculptures are made from metal, and feature cutouts in the shapes of various animals (not unlike those found in papercraft). Besides the knife”s general shape, the cut-outs in the blades also recall a traditional Chinese chopping knife. This particular type of knife features hollow areas in the blade, so the sculptures also refer to Li”s culture.

Wasteland

<i>Wasteland</i>

Lotus Pond

<i>Lotus Pond</i>

Hunting

<i>Hunting</i>

Rest

<i>Rest</i>

Continuity

<i>Continuity</i>

Cheetah

<i>Cheetah</i>

Thorns

<i>Thorns</i>

Bones of a Snake

<i>Bones of a Snake</i>

Gaze

<i>Gaze</i>

Hawk

<i>Hawk</i>

You Reap What You Sow

<i>You Reap What You Sow</i>

(via Laughing Squid)

Li”s cutouts are in the shapes of animals, trees, and humans. Through these images, the cutouts include a message for the audience. As explained at his show in Contemporary by Angela Li, a gallery in Hong Kong where the knives are displayed, the series is a warning to humanity. Li uses his sculptures to express his fear that humanity will be its own undoing: “Human beings will eventually destroy themselves because of their gluttony and their abuse of animals.” The sculptures show a variety of animals in their natural beauty, as well as the menacing activities of humans. When combined with a knife blade and its inherent potential for danger and injury, the images and their medium foretell the consequences of behaving in an environmentally irresponsible fashion.

You can see more of Li”s work on his Facebook page.

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