Explore the Spring 2024 Donum Estate Catalog here

Li Hui, 1977-2020, China

Captured Rhino, 2012

This sculpture by the Chinese conceptual artist Li Hui is the size of a real rhinoceros: It measures nine feet tall. To make the work, Li drew a rhinoceros on his computer, created a life-sized model of it in clay, then brought in a team of welders to spend four months wrapping the rhino in stainless-steel wire, giving this sculpture the appearance of a three-dimensional line drawing.

At first sight, the rhinoceros seems ferocious and menacing. Looking ready to charge at the viewer, it represents the sheer power of nature over man and humanity’s failure to accept this. At the same time, the massive rhino  is held in place by a small sickle, illustrating the power of human ingenuity. The work can also be seen as a comment on the extinction of rhinos due to poaching for the Chinese rhino horn market.


Li uses a variety of artistic media in his work, such as laser beams, LED lights, and transparent neon-lit acrylic sculptures. Through the use of contemporary media, he produces a range of dreamlike works that aim to elicit emotions in the viewer. For example, in 2011, his exhibition "Cage" – at the Ernst Schering Foundation in Berlin – saw visitors enclosed by an intangible cage made of laser beams.

“I want to create feelings which cannot be expressed in language," the artist explains. "There are just too many works attached to some kind of philosophy, but to me that’s not what art is about. You create feelings in art – if you can feel it, others will feel it too.”

Li was born in Beijing and educated at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, where he received his BA. His work has been exhibited at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei, as well as in museums across Europe.