B. 1969 -
When Alex Guofeng Cao came to New York, photography easily became his passion. Inspired by such masters as Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Edward Weston, and Robert Mapplethorpe, Cao ceaselessly studied and experimented with all methods and techniques in photography. While adept with color, Cao’s preferred medium is the black and white image. Cao’s deep fascination with the subtle gradations of tone between the deep black and the stark white are the generators for all the colors he needs to create his world.
A decade ago, Cao was inspired on a trip to Naples and Pompeii by ancient mosaic floors and walls. Cao incorporates the mosaic art form into his work, and views the creation of his art as composing a mosaic of memories into an impression of the present. Greatly influenced by the ideal forms and proportions of the iconic and statuesque sculptures of the ancient Egypt, Greek and Roman eras, Cao’s works are rooted in western antiquity.
The most recent body of work by Cao is a series of images of popular culture icons. At a glance almost anyone can identify some if not all of the characters in the menagerie of celebrities. Upon closer inspection, the viewer can see that these stars are composed of a constellation of tiny repetitive images each slightly differing from its neighbors. The arrays of miniscule visages that comprise the larger portraits are iconic images themselves. There is a playful dialogue between the chosen image that inhabits the larger celebrity in each portrait. The image of Marilyn Monroe is populated by minuscule images of the Mona Lisa. These two women are, arguably, the most famous women in the world and share an unusual bond in that they are both, in some ways, fantastical characters. As the viewer scrutinizes the intricate details of each portrait, the hidden and carefully chosen codes that Cao inserted become apparent. These images undergo evolution and change as time passes, and they bear the marks of a collection of history, as well as the author’s intent.