Master of Artists - Cao Yong
In 1962, Cao Yong was born into hardship in China. During
the Cultural Revolution, his family was singled out for
harsh treatment by the authorities because of their previously
distinguished background. While other young children his
age started kindergarten, little Cao Yong began working;
at age five, he found himself ferrying heavy baskets of
gravel at a construction site. One day a rock pit caved
in, nearly crushing the tiny boy to death under the rubble.
Luckily, he survived.
was through drawing that Cao Yong found peace and consolation
in those difficult years. At age eleven, he began studying
with a noted artist from Beijing. In order to buy art
supplies, he often pawned his clothes and skipped meals.
Yet it wasn't just poverty that Cao Yong had to contend
against; discrimination from his community dogged the
young artist daily.
Cao Yong continued to paint with remarkable persistence.
At age sixteen, he took the highly competitive National
Entrance Exam of Art Universities, scoring the highest
marks in five provinces. Still, all the universities
rejected him because of his family background. A year
later, he took the exam again and was finally admitted
to Henan University. Always an outcast in the ideology-dominated
environment, Cao Yong had to face constant persecution
even as a university student; nonetheless, he excelled
in his art classes and received his BFA in 1983.
graduation, Cao Yong became the youngest art professor
at Tibet University. During his seven years in Tibet,
he immersed himself in the spare beauty and distinctive
culture of the isolated highlands. To study the prehistoric
cave paintings of Tibet, Cao Yong--accompanied only by
a horse, a dog, and a gun for hunting--lived alone in
deserted mountain caves for nearly a year.
Yong's now-legendary experience in Tibet resulted in
a remarkable series of paintings, which was exhibited
at his first one-man show in Beijing in early 1989. The
exhibit was an instant success, and the event was covered
by major international news agencies from Asia, Europe,
and North America. However, this celebrated art show
alarmed the Chinese authorities. Beijing police confiscated
and burned seven of Cao Yong's paintings, and then arrested
him. But Cao Yong managed to escape. With his fiancée
Aya Goda, a Japanese art student, he set off on a perilous
eight-month journey as a fugitive. Finally, with the
help of the Japanese Embassy, the couple escaped to Japan.
journey was described by Aya Goda in her book Escape.
Published in Japan in 1995 by Bungeishunjuu Publishing, Escape was
awarded the Grand Prize for Non-Fiction from Kodansha
Book Publishers, Japan's most prestigious book award.
Yong began his life in Japan by working as a gravedigger
and taking small painting commissions. But soon his talents
attracted much larger commissions, in the form of several
enormous murals. Within a few years, Cao Yong was recognized
as the nation's most honored muralist; his murals adorned
stylish commercial buildings, high-class department stores,
and even ceremonial sites throughout Japan. Meanwhile,
Cao Yong continued to work passionately on his Tibet
paintings, creating a body of his finest work then to
date. Exhibited in Tokyo's prominent museums and art
galleries, Cao Yong's art electrified the nation's art
world, and he was extolled by the Japanese press as "an
artistic genius of our time."
1994, searching for tougher challenges and a bigger stage,
Cao Yong immigrated to the United States. Inspired by
the free-spirited American people and the diverse and
energetic society, the artist began what was soon to
become his most prolific outpouring of work, vividly
reflecting his newest experiences and emotions. Collectors
zealously welcomed, and continue to welcome, Cao Yong's
new art. In 1999, he established his art publishing company
Cao Yong Editions, Inc. In a little over two years, Cao
Yong has become one of the most collected living artists
in America. Nearly two hundred galleries nationwide have
joined Cao Yong's dealership, and his distribution network
is now expanding into the Japanese, Canadian, and European
Click here for Cao Yong's
audiences around the world respond with standing ovations
to Cao Yong's remarkable work, the artist remains raptly
focused upon perfecting his art. To Cao Yong, there is
no greater reward than being able to share with others
his innermost feelings through his work.
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Master Of Artists - Cao Yong & His Masterpieces
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