Gigantic paper sculptures suspended in the middle of a Parisian department store

Celebrated Chinese artist Ai Weiwei appeared in Paris at the weekend to launch an enormous exhibition of fantastical paper figures, but rather than showing at one of the cities iconic art spaces, his giant creatures are on display across the historic Le Bon Marché department store.

This ambitious and alternative event should come as no surprise; Ai Weiwei is renowned for exhibiting outside of traditional spaces and for the influence of his Chinese history and cultural heritage.

Entitled ‘ER XI’, which translates as ‘Child’s Play’, the show ties into the iconic store’s annual White Sale and takes inspiration from the 'Shan Hai Jing’, traditional Chinese children’s tales from many centuries ago.

The gigantic kite sculptures have been handmade from paper and bamboo with the help of a dozen kite makers from the Shandong province in China. They have been crafted into the shape of animals from the traditional culture and mythology, which the artist describes as ‘friendly, cheeky and unfortunate’. Suspended from the ceiling and balconies and carefully lit from within, despite their impressive presence each sculpture is delicate and made from rice paper, bamboo and silk.

The exhibition is on show at this historic retail space in Paris until 20th February 2016.

All images © Gabriel de la Chapelle