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"The Life and Painting of Cao Yong"...The stunningly beautiful book that tells the extraordinary life experiences of Cao Yong. Many artworks unveiled to the public for the first time.

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"A Splendid Sight of the Astonishing World"

"Before meeting Cao Yong, I had already had the pleasure of viewing his painting album. The moment I first saw him, I was surprised. He was typical of the men in Northern China; his simple and honest appearance contrasted finely and interestingly with the elegance and intelligence manifested in his paintings. His eyes, although slightly narrowed, beamed with wisdom and mildness.

A simple and innocent smile was always found on his face. At first sight of him, I felt that even after his being exposed to the cruelties of the world numerous times, this artist still had a childs innocence. In artistic creation, such innocence is a rare characteristic. My feelings were further verified after I saw his painting album and read about the great trials, tribulations, joys and sorrows of his life.

Cao Yong experienced three paramount phases in his life and artistic career: the seven years in Tibet, the five years in Japan and the ten years in the United States. Mr. Huang Yan called these "the three phases of transformation, transcendence, and sublimation." His was so comprehensive a summary, that as a layperson of fine art, I could never expect to phrase it better.

However, what interested me most were the series of paintings that Cao Yong created while residing in the United States, namely, the Golden Coast, Hawaii, Mediterranean, Paris, Romantic Garden, Venice and his newest, the Grand American Series.

These paintings, so marvelous and dazzling, evoked in me such deep emotions that it was as if the ancient art of oil painting from Europe were undergoing a secret change in the eyes and mind of this great and extremely talented artist from China. I felt as if a pair of magical hands powered by an Eastern spirit and culture was opening up a new, rich and passionate artistic horizon that one could not forget nor part with. From these fine and vivid paintings of European scenes, one can easily find a strong, unearthly, tranquil and harmonious Eastern sentiment.

In Cao Yong's paintings, both realistic and vivid expressions are seamlessly integrated: earth, man, nature, tranquility and commotion. The composition, technique, color and shade, whether complicated or simple, no longer seem important. Dominated by a thorough artistic spirit, content and form find their most suitable way of expression in his paintings.

From the artistic practices of Cao Yong, one may find unique annotations to such sayings of ancient sages as, "Great sound is hard to hear," "Great form takes no shape" and "The Dao follows the way things are."

Compared with his former Tibet-specific paintings, these Europe-specific works adopt a different form of expression, but contain the same aspirations of the artist for warmth, freedom and an ideal, unearthly life. From the pleasant images of the streets, we clearly feel a kind of tranquility behind the dazzling lights as well as a stoic attitude towards the clamorous world. Artists always seek to find a spiritual shelter for people through such flashy images. In addition, without exception, all the figures among the classical buildings or beautiful scenery as depicted in Cao Yong's paintings take on a rare look of peace and calmness.

Such scenes may not be a true representation of the living conditions of most people at present, but surely they stand for a long-cherished aspiration in all of us. It is no wonder that Cao Yong's paintings are so loved in the West. From the perspective of a Chinese reader, it can be said that the popularity of Cao Yong's artworks in the Western world lies in the artist's pervasive pursuit for a calm, harmonious, leisurely and uninhibited human spirit that originates from the Eastern civilizations and transcends worldly desires.

Even in the masterpiece "Santa Monica," the beauty of extraordinary harmony between man and nature stand out in spite of the grand occasion, numerous figures and heated atmosphere depicted in the painting. In the painting, happy crowds of people are strolling on the boardwalk and walking in the sand, enjoying a sunny day at the beach. Tall palm trees fan their leaves to cool the hot summer day; there is a fresh scent of the ocean's salt air; the ocean's surging waves break into white billows of foam on the sand; flying fish jump out of the water; and high above in the bright blue sky, noisy seagulls soar. All these scenes are brought together in absolute harmony, balance and perfection. This scene fills the depths of our hearts with joy, warmth, tranquility and peace.

Here, a magical harmony of integration is achieved between the dynamic and static, the hot and cold, the soul and flesh. It is a harmonious integration of superficial motion with internal tranquility that follows the outbreak of passions. In this sense, the beauty expressed in Cao Yong's paintings is one of a warm, romantic atmosphere that beams with the splendor of humanity and deserves endless appreciation.

The sharp change in Cao Yong's painting style and the creation of a series of new works after his arrival in the United States have already transcended the sorrows and joys of his own life. Fortunately, Cao Yong's paintings are there as proof. I believe in the judgment and vision of every viewer of his paintings...."


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