Metaphoric Tales Of Sentiment
Mesmerized by the ethereal charm of a girl in solitude who encounters an enchanting journey identifies what lies on the surface immediately upon viewing Los Angeles-based and China born artist Mandy Cao. Her whimsical tales of metaphoric objects and figures instantly forge a bond between the illustrated characters and spectator. Consequently accentuating individual lifetime experiences. Nevertheless, nature, plants, and sentimental connections serve as a source of inspiration. Subtly approaching her paintings in delicate sequences that incorporate an element of surprise. The appeal of Cao’s work is cunning, brilliant yet unchallenged her paintings of non-fictional depictions are the only surreal concept. To further understand Mandy Cao’s unmistakable contemporary vision for extraordinary existence we discuss her interpretation of surrealism and the characters featured in her soft-hued paintings.
It's interesting how paintings display the artist’s versatility. Do you feel that most artists create an element of surprise that is surprising and versatile? How do you approach an image before it's brought into reality?
I think everything that’s in a painting has a purpose. An element of surprise in a painting is usually a metaphor to me; it’s fascinating how different viewers see it so differently. I take a lot of photos and sketches before I paint, I will decide what mood of the whole image and then do some color sketches. I have to see the image before I start.
Your illustrations and paintings exhibit your fascination with nature. What is your attraction with nature when you’re gathering ideas for a painting? What are a few things you have learned when collecting information? How does this experience affect the concept of your work?
I like to drive around. I used to take many photos but now I like to just look at what attracts me on my road, and then put them in my paintings abstractly without a reference. I found it helps me to focus more on the emotion and the whole vision instead of the details.
You’re creating imagery that seems nostalgic yet whimsical. Who are the characters in your paintings and do they seek something in the world you've created for them?
The characters in my paintings are inspired by friends’ stories or just my emotions and dreams. I want to create images like dreams or nightmares, that’s whimsical and surreal, but the people are real, the emotions are always real.
Describe the concept behind your most recent body of work, what have you done different compared to previous works? Are there certain emotions you try to express through your work that you want viewers to interpret?
I just had a solo exhibition “Monologue” this April, at Flower Pepper Gallery located in Pasadena, CA. The concept of the show is to talk to myself and see what I really want and who I really am. I tried to create my paintings with a little more negative spaces and fewer details to fill in the background, so the viewer can focus more on the figures and really feel the emotions and the struggle to see themselves in my paintings as well.
Let’s talk about the painting called “Thinking”. I’ve noticed is the character is not surrounded by the elements of nature and has several hands on her face. What is the significance of this painting? Why did you decide to focus only on the character?
“Thinking” is focused on people instead of nature. People are always affected by other people in their life, their advises and opinions, especially when they are trying to make decisions or changes. The hands in the paintings are symbols of other people’s interfere in your life when they do not fully understand, because people are always afraid of changes.
Is there a balance between surrealism and something else in your paintings? How do you connect the emotions portrayed in the images to your audience? Do you want viewers to feel a bond with the characters presented in your work?
I do want my viewers to feel a bond and connection with my characters because I created them to depict an emotion that’s happened in my life. I’m not going for a balance purposely when I was painting, it’s just the beautiful color combinations I like, the metaphoric objects and my figures. After all, it’s the image that’s surrealism, not the emotions.
China has rich culture and breathtaking scenery. Do you feel your Chinese heritage have a major effect on your work and do you plan on exhibiting there soon?
I learned Chinese scenery watercolor paintings when I was a child and that has a huge influence on me. I would love to do exhibitions if I have a chance.
As an artist, you’re always developing your craft. What is the toughest challenge you experienced? How did you accomplish your goals through that obstacle?
Colors are always challenging to me, I try to explore all the color combinations and push myself to use bright colors that I have been avoiding to.
Describe a typical for Mandy Cao? Name the most indispensable item in your studio and what can't live without?
My old sketchbooks from college are the most indispensable thing. That’s my times of struggle of finding my style and the process of how I did it.
What is next for Mandy Cao and do you plan on exploring any other creative mediums?
I will keep painting oil and watercolors, exhibitions and travel. Do what I enjoy and see what life brings me.
For the aspiring artists seeking the same journey as Mandy Cao. Could you share words of encouragement?
I would tell them to do what they enjoy the most at this moment in their lives and work really hard to make a living out of this.
Images Courtesy Of Mandy Cao