Cao Wei Hong Press Release
Transporting viewers into another epoch, Cao Weihong’s oil paintings depict (semi)-nude Chinese ladies in a traditional setting. Qing and Ming dynasty furniture and typically female decorative objects – embroidered shoes, round fans, underwear, vases of flowers and silk cloth – provide the backdrop for these delicate ladies who, in the artist’s own words, ‘are actually doing nothing.’
In every detail of her work – the poses, the colours, the decor - Cao seeks to capture the essence of the China of a bygone era. Unlike modern society that sees sexuality as something to be concealed, in the past it was celebrated as a natural part of life. Cao, very much in tune with this ideology, believes that, ‘nakedness is another way to express chasteness and spiritual cleanliness.’ Her characters are sensual rather than sexy, alluring rather than brazen. In her own words Cao describes her painting as ‘pure oriental romance.’ Yet the artist is also aware that it was due to the mind-set that women should be kept at home and be protected that the idea to bind a woman’s feet came about. Cao’s paintings remind her contemporary audience to what extent China, and the role of the role of women in particular, has developed – for better and for worse.