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Cao Xiaodong (Chinese, b.1961)
LOT ID: 68081
Different Youth No. 1, 2008

Oil, on canvas
71 х 71 in. (180.34 x 180.34 cm.)
Signed, and dated upper front right.
Lot description
"Different Youth No. 1" (2008) is arguably one of the finest examples of the unique and sublime oil paintings by Chinese Contemporary artist Cao Xiaodong. This work is painted at a major scale and brilliantly encapsulates the overall message of Cao's work, where he speaks directly and ironically to the social and cultural differences between East and West in his internationally lauded series of incredibly detailed figural paintings painted in the pointillism technique to which this work belongs. This painting is unframed and in excellent condition.

"Different Youth No. 1" (2008) Cao has visually divided the canvas evenly at center. On the left half of the painting, the overtly sexual image of two beautiful young American women dressed in incredibly revealing corsets and bunny ears, dressed as seductive and glamorous Playboy Bunnies, their"proof of youth" is clearly celebrated in the era of the Sexual Revolution in the U.S. In vivid contrast on the right half stands two young and beautiful Chinese women depicted in the standard issue PRC asexual baggy uniforms who smile broadly even as their youthful forms and fresh faces are used as images of political propaganda. They are clearly individuals whose "proof of youth" has been absorbed from them by the Cultural Revolution in China. Cao's soft colors here of a soft lavender and faded orange heighten the feel that we are looking at vintage photographs here and not a highly detailed realist oil painting.

Cao paints by painstakingly applying thousands of tiny oil paint dots directly onto the canvas. Employing this pointillism technique along with his overall European portrait style, makes Cao's work Contemporary while his imagery links him to American Pop artists such as Warhol and Lichtenstein. His method of painting and choice of iconography are clear commentaries of West versus East--from a distance his paintings are an idealized European portrait. Stand too close to his work and the images dissolve into an abstract haze of a traditional Chinese ink painting. Another contemporary embellishment is the computer commands he includes in each work. In “Different Youth No. 1" the artist features computer code, and prompts such as "SAVE" seen here, as well as white crop lines and demarcations he uses when scanning the original photographs.

The artist was born in China in 1961 and he graduated from Industry Design College, Jiangnan University in 1982. Notable Solo Exhibitions include: 2009 "Cao Xiaodong Abstract Solo Exhibition", Egg Gallery, Beijing, China; 2008 "Cao Xiaodong Solo Exhibition", Ode Gallery, Singapore and "Save As", Virginia Miller Gallery, Miami, USA. Selected Group Exhibitions: 2011 "History and Future", Soemo Fine Arts, Beijing, China and in 2010 "Link," at the Shanghai Mingyuan Art Museum, China and again in 2010 "Trace" ,Time Museum, Beijing in the last few years alone.
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