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Cao Xiaodong (Chinese, b.1961)
LOT ID: 66122
Proof of the Youth No. 2, 2008

Oil, on canvas
71 х 71 in. (180.34 x 180.34 cm.)
Signed, inscribed, in Chinese, with title, date and dimensions in cm all inscribed on back of canvas.
Lot description
"Proof of the Youth No. 2" is arguably one of the finest examples of the unique and sublime oil paintings by Chinese Contemporary artist Cao Xiaodong. This grandiose painting 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. This work is unframed and in excellent condition.

In "Proof of the Youth No. 2" Cao has visually divided the canvas evenly at center. On the left stands a young and beautiful Chinese woman depicted in the standard issue PRC asexual baggy uniform hiding her physique, her long hair in braids. She is clearly an individual whose "proof of youth" has been absorbed from her by the Cultural Revolution in China. In vivid contrast, she is juxtaposed with an image on the right of a beautiful young American woman dressed in a n incredibly revealing corset, dressed as a seductive and glamorous Playboy Bunny, her "proof of youth" is clearly celebrated in the era of the Sexual Revolution in the U.S. His soft colors here of a faded orange and soft lavender heighten the feel that we are looking at vintage photographs here and not a highly detailed realist oil painting. The artist is known for his portrait paintings that are imbued with a sense of irony and cultural significance as this work illustrates.

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 Xiadong’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 integral to his work. In “Proof of the Youth No. 2” the artist includes computer code and prompts such as "OPEN" here, as well as crop lines and demarcations he uses when scanning the original photographs.

The artist was born in China in 1961. Cao Xiaodong 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 and was also invited to exhibit at "The 25th Asia International Art Exhibition", Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The artist lives and works in Beijing, China.
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