Painting on Another Plane: Mandy Cao –

Posted: May 28, 2022 at 8:40 pm

Trapped in her dreams, in the half-lit purgatory of insomnia, neither awake nor sleeping, an anonymous young woman wanders through the half-world of the in-between, touching mysterious plants, and embracing the astral entities she encounters a swan, long black lines of unraveled thread, a huge wolf. She is dark-haired, beautiful, and naked. We never see her face. This is the landscape of folk tales, where magic and reality meet, where nothing is what it seems and everything is meaningful. These are the supernatural workings of Mandy Cao, a painter of unsettling and seductive psychological power.

Mandy Cao,My Sheer Dream

Cao was born in China and immigrated to Los Angeles, California, to join her mother who had come to America two years before. She was fourteen years old. When I first came here it was really difficult for me, she says, I enjoy how chill L.A. is, and how nice and welcoming people are, but I dont feel like I belong to anywhere. I guess I belong here I have family here, and now I have kids here. I still think Im Chinese, but when I go back to China, they think Im American. I dont hate that feeling, I take it and enjoy it. I think thats what makes me different from other artists. I definitely show it in my paintings Im living in a world as I want it to be, as I like it. After high school she attended the renowned Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and soon learned from her professors that she must develop her own style if she was to succeed in the world of galleries and shows and deals. Feeling lost, she decided to paint her feelings of uncertainty, of wandering unsure of her direction in an unfamiliar world. She liked living in the United States, but felt like a stranger in a strange land. Her uncertainty became her style, her cheerful alienation became her message.

Mandy Cao, Time in Desolation

Although her wandering woman drifts through a strange landscape, she is unthreatened even a monstrous wolf is a protecting entity in her red riding reverie. When detached and spectral hollow hands touch her shoulders, they seem to offer reassurance rather than any haunted threat, and the mysterious fauna she finds is benignly and beautifully mutated. Its all like daydreaming, Cao muses, its the way I look at the world. I look at stuff, the things in the world and I dont think its real. I paint out what I think it should be, from the direction I look at it. I love the world. She gathers a perfect white swan into her arms, in a cold land, confined on a tiny ice-cold island of bleached white. It rests its head against her shoulder, safe and secure. Twiggy coral-orange plants grow through a white and grey ground as soft as ashes and snow. The swan is an elegant symbol for love, Cao maintains.

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Painting on Another Plane: Mandy Cao -

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