To make his sculptures Li uses a stencil to paste glue in narrow strips across large pieces of paper that he then sticks together to form blocks of 500.
He stacks the blocks to the desired height — an average bust is over ten blocks or 5,000 sheets of paper high — then cuts, chisels and sands the large block just as if it were a piece of soft stone. Born into a simple farming family, Li said he has always loved paper, first invented in ancient China. He has spent six years producing a collection of books recording more than 1,000 years of Buddhist art on paper.
In his recent works, Li has consciously produced only perfect replicas of classical busts and shapes he used to sketch at university. The denatured human forms may make some people squirm, but Li says he uses the archetypal figures to make audiences concentrate on the material, not to shock.