• EVERYDAY LIFE - Painting Exhibition
  • Artist: Cao Yingbin
  • Critic: Huang Bin
  • Opening: 16:00 – 19:00 / 03.20.2010
  • Duration: 10:00 – 18:00 / 21.03.2010 – 23.04.2010 Daily
  • Address: ANART. 2F, Building 13, M50, Shanghai.
Huang Bin
Cao Yingbin, one of the 1970’s generation, exemplifies the ordinary people of China, or what we might call ‘small figures’. Like the vast majority of Chinese people of his generation, he has the mottled markings of rich personal experience, and historical and social transitions. Whilst his residence is a simple dwelling in a corner of the modern city, his roots are deeply bound to this place, full of the absurd and miraculous. His works are closely related to the everyday lives of its ordinary people and to their inner perceptions. Hence, they often inadvertently capture the souls of his viewers.

In many ways, Cao’s work acts as an interpretation and sample of the panorama of ordinary people living in contemporary China. Perhaps it is for this reason that when Mr Hans first visited Cao’s Songzhuang studio in 1999, after seeing some of Cao’s early works, he felt so excited that he danced for joy. Perhaps astute Hans suddenly discerned this ordinary young man’s desolation and living conditions.

“Live in the present moment. The present moment is the most important thing. Everyday life is the most important, truest and most representative thing.” In this way, Cao Yingbin explains the content of his paintings. In the China of the moment, says Cao, “we are only small figures without the right to speak out” and “at times our lives lack choices.”

Aside from viewing art as life, Cao Yingbin is a lonely walker and a desolate thinker. His works possess deeply the significance of ‘the truth in the midst of absurdity.’ In the contemporary Chinese metropolis, people are often excessive to the point of absurdity, and floundering in loneliness. If you’re not a player, then you’ll probably become a pawn. This is the historical backdrop to Chinese people’s real lives. In contrast, Cao is stern and sincere.

The works currently on display belong to Cao’s third creative period, and can be divided roughly into two categories of direction. One forms a consideration of everyday life, including works such as His, Hers, Playing Pool, and Public Bath. The other includes Be Careful and M.I.L.K....Milk Series which can make people think deeply, producing an endless series of associations or queries. People cannot help but laugh when they see Thoughtful Gesture. Perhaps once people start thinking, they will see the absurdity. The second category is a direct response to social existence, for example, Mr Hu’s Happy Sex Life, CEO, Successful People, and Who’s Who. In modern Chinese society, what does success mean? What is the essence of the lifestyle of the successful people? Perhaps the small sculptures of Successful People present to you the same kind of absurd explanations for everything..... Ha, ha, that thing is showing off so much that a little bit of skin is scratched.

In brief, this art is “all about people; their lives, their ideals, their absurdity, their entanglements, their gatherings, their loneliness……” Cao Yingbin’s art makes you think about the meaning and spirit of everyday life. His extensive range of repetitions and contrasts inadvertently bring to our attention the certain absurdities of life, the twisting and struggling behind the display, and the causes and effects of much of society’s phenomena.

Cao’s works do not hold any predetermined value or conceptual direction. The viewer’s response depends upon the viewer’s own attitude towards life, just like a mirror. You might inadvertently see another self, both true and absurd. 
Translated by Nicola Kielty