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Indepth Arts News:

"Feminine Mystique: Oil Paintings by Cao Weihong"
2003-08-07 until 2003-08-18
Art Scene China
Hong Kong, , CN China

Cao Weihong's feminine oil paintings are of semi-nude delicate, yet coquettish Chinese ladies in classically domestic and idealized traditional Chinese settings. The alluring and curvaceous poses of the women combined with their almost hap chance nudity add a distinctly sensual element to the work. The soft and curvy women‚s bodies are contrasted with the traditional straight-lined wooden Qing dynasty antique furniture. With their hands holding Chinese fans, handkerchiefs, or tucked together delicately supporting the head, the ladies almost seem as though they are posing for and gazing at the viewer.

Looking at the paintings, the viewer feels like they are stealing a glance at the private moments of these women, adding an element of voyeuristic tension to the work. The figures represent traditional Chinese concepts of beauty, presenting ladies with small hands, feet and mouths, but these traditional aspects are combined with the artist's own, special, almost modern way of painting them. The works often feature feminine symbols alongside the female figure such as plum or lotus blossoms or other flowers in full bloom. The fact that the figures in the works provoke fantasy directly whereas flowers and pastoral representations of nature provoke the same thing indirectly also makes the work modern. 

Cao's paintings‚ stylization, simplicity and the almost two-dimensional quality of the works, with much empty space in the background, are influenced by traditional Chinese ink-painting techniques and concepts. Cao Weihong comments, "The [oil painting] material I use is western, but the ideas, content and the feelings in my paintings are Chinese."

Cao Weihong comments on her work, "My paintings are an expression of the feelings inside me. I think that nude‚ indicates vulnerability and a kind of purity of the soul. Without the superficial cover of clothing, the figures in my paintings become more human‚. I don‚t try to make my paintings sensual - I just try to make them soft‚. It is not a bad thing if some people find my paintings to be sensual. Sexuality is also a kind of culture. It is well expressed in Chinese traditional culture, and this also holds true in the Western traditional arts."


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