Chinese artist hopes paper weapons will stir thoughts of peace

BEIJING, June 19 (Reuters) - Chinese artist Li Hongbo hopes his paper sculptures of weapons - from AK-47 assault rifles to bullets and pistols - will inspire people to think about peace.

"I produced this artwork (because) after all, there is still military competition, war and fear in this world," Li said ahead of the opening of his latest exhibit.

"I wonder if (my work) could make people ... pursue a kind of true peace, a truly beautiful world for mankind without any disputes," he said.

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Artist makes colorful paper guns to examine weapons and war
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Artist makes colorful paper guns to examine weapons and war
Paper sculptures in the shape of handgun are seen as a part of Chinese artist Li Hongbo's work "Ocean of Flowers" ahead of the exhibition at Eight One Art Museum in Beijing, China June 13, 2017. According to Li, nearly 2000 sculptures in shape of different weapons, made of hundreds of pieces of brightly coloured paper, reflect his thoughts about desire, destruction, hatred and war. Picture taken June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Chinese artist Li Hongbo gets a paper sculpture in the shape of a handgun from his assistant as he sets up his work "Ocean of Flowers" at Eight One Art Museum in Beijing, China June 14, 2017. According to Li, nearly 2000 sculptures in shape of different weapons, made of hundreds of pieces of brightly coloured paper, reflect his thoughts about desire, destruction, hatred and war. Picture taken June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Chinese artist Li Hongbo (front) and his assistant set up his work "Ocean of Flowers" at Eight One Art Museum in Beijing, China June 14, 2017. According to Li, nearly 2000 sculptures in shape of different weapons, made of hundreds of pieces of brightly coloured paper, reflect his thoughts about desire, destruction, hatred and war. Picture taken June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
A paper sculpture in the shape of a handgun is placed as a part of Chinese artist Li Hongbo's work "Ocean of Flowers" ahead of the exhibition at Eight One Art Museum in Beijing, China June 14, 2017. According to Li, nearly 2000 sculptures in shape of different weapons, made of hundreds of pieces of brightly coloured paper, reflect his thoughts about desire, destruction, hatred and war. Picture taken June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Paper sculptures in the shape of AK 47s, handguns and bullets are seen as a part of Chinese artist Li Hongbo's work "Ocean of Flowers" ahead of the exhibition at Eight One Art Museum in Beijing, China June 14, 2017. According to Li, nearly 2000 sculptures in shape of different weapons, made of hundreds of pieces of brightly coloured paper, reflect his thoughts about desire, destruction, hatred and war. Picture taken June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Chinese artist Li Hongbo flattens a paper sculpture in the shape of a handgun as he sets up his work "Ocean of Flowers" at Eight One Art Museum in Beijing, China June 14, 2017. According to Li, nearly 2000 sculptures in shape of different weapons, made of hundreds of pieces of brightly coloured paper, reflect his thoughts about desire, destruction, hatred and war. Picture taken June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Chinese artist Li Hongbo gets a paper sculpture in the shape of a handgun from his assistant as he sets up his work "Ocean of Flowers" at Eight One Art Museum in Beijing, China June 14, 2017. According to Li, nearly 2000 sculptures in shape of different weapons, made of hundreds of pieces of brightly coloured paper, reflect his thoughts about desire, destruction, hatred and war. Picture taken June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Chinese artist Li Hongbo and his assistant set up a paper sculpture in the shape of an AK 47 assault rifle for his work "Ocean of Flowers" at Eight One Art Museum in Beijing, China June 13, 2017. According to Li, nearly 2000 sculptures in shape of different weapons, made of hundreds of pieces of brightly coloured paper, reflect his thoughts about desire, destruction, hatred and war. Picture taken June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Paper sculptures in the shape of handguns and bullets are seen as a part of Chinese artist Li Hongbo's work "Ocean of Flowers" ahead of the exhibition at Eight One Art Museum in Beijing, China June 14, 2017. According to Li, nearly 2000 sculptures in shape of different weapons, made of hundreds of pieces of brightly coloured paper, reflect his thoughts about desire, destruction, hatred and war. Picture taken June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Chinese artist Li Hongbo sets up his work "Ocean of Flowers" at Eight One Art Museum in Beijing, China June 14, 2017. According to Li, nearly 2000 sculptures in shape of different weapons, made of hundreds of pieces of brightly coloured paper, reflect his thoughts about desire, destruction, hatred and war. Picture taken June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Chinese artist Li Hongbo prepares a paper sculpture in the shape of a handgun as a part of his work ?Ocean of Flowers? at Eight One Art Museum in Beijing, China June 13, 2017. According to Li, nearly 2000 sculptures in shape of different weapons, made of hundreds of pieces of brightly coloured paper, reflect his thoughts about desire, destruction, hatred and war. Picture taken June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Paper sculptures in the shape of handguns and bullets are placed as a part of Chinese artist Li Hongbo's work "Ocean of Flowers" ahead of the exhibition at Eight One Art Museum in Beijing, China June 13, 2017. According to Li, nearly 2000 sculptures in shape of different weapons, made of hundreds of pieces of brightly coloured paper, reflect his thoughts about desire, destruction, hatred and war. Picture taken June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Chinese artist Li Hongbo places paper sculptures in the shape of handguns as he sets up his work "Ocean of Flowers" at Eight One Art Museum in Beijing, China June 13, 2017. According to Li, nearly 2000 sculptures in shape of different weapons, made of hundreds of pieces of brightly coloured paper, reflect his thoughts about desire, destruction, hatred and war. Picture taken June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Assistants of Chinese artist Li Hongbo place paper sculptures in the shape of handguns for Li's work "Ocean of Flowers" at Eight One Art Museum in Beijing, China June 13, 2017. According to Li, nearly 2000 sculptures in shape of different weapons, made of hundreds of pieces of brightly coloured paper, reflect his thoughts about desire, destruction, hatred and war. Picture taken June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Paper sculptures in the shape of handguns are seen as a part of Chinese artist Li Hongbo's work "Ocean of Flowers" ahead of the exhibition at Eight One Art Museum in Beijing, China June 13, 2017. According to Li, nearly 2000 sculptures in shape of different weapons, made of hundreds of pieces of brightly coloured paper, reflect his thoughts about desire, destruction, hatred and war. Picture taken June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Chinese artist Li Hongbo and his assistant carry paper sculptures in the shape of AK 47 assault rifles as they set up Li's work "Ocean of Flowers" at Eight One Art Museum in Beijing, China June 13, 2017. According to Li, nearly 2000 sculptures in shape of different weapons, made of hundreds of pieces of brightly coloured paper, reflect his thoughts about desire, destruction, hatred and war. Picture taken June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Chinese artist Li Hongbo flattens a paper sculpture in shape of MP5 submachine gun for his work "Ocean of Flowers" at Eight One Art Museum in Beijing, China June 14, 2017. According to Li, nearly 2000 sculptures in shape of different weapons, made of hundreds of pieces of brightly coloured paper, reflect his thoughts about desire, destruction, hatred and war. Picture taken June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
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"Ocean of Flowers," which opened at the Eight One Art Museum in Beijing on Sunday, comprises nearly 2,000 brightly colored paper sculptures that can be folded up into weapons.

"A weapon that is used to kill people becomes a toy, a flower. It is an extreme contrast," said 56-year-old Wang Duanting.

Li, who grew up in a farming family, said he always loved the flexibility of paper, which was invented in ancient China.

Similar to the way traditional Chinese honeycomb paper lanterns are made, Li pastes narrow strips of paper together, which he then cuts and chisels to achieve a shape.

The paper objects can expand and contract like an accordion.

"It's very creative and these bullets are a lot of fun. It looks like there's elasticity in it," said seven-year-old Hao Jiabei.

The "Ocean of Flowers" exhibit was first shown in Sydney in 2012. The Beijing edition, which runs to July 20, is the largest showcase of Li's work in his native country.

(Reporting by Irene Wang; Writing by Karishma Singh)

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