In a captivating new collection, Alex Guofeng Cao dazzles audiences with his unique twist on instantly recognizable images. Inspired by history and pop culture, Cao manipulates one iconic image to create another in his extraordinary large-scale works. From a distance, the pieces appear to be a singular image but as the viewer approaches closer, you find each work is a masterfully crafted compilation of minute detailed images layered next to one another, creating a mesmerizing and hypnotic optical illusion.
Cao meticulously places each smaller image to form a dynamic gradient from dark to light which tricks the eye into seeing one image. This expertise in contrast is exemplified in all of his works, from striking black and white pieces to stunning explorations in high-definition color. He cleverly mirrors this visual contrast in his subject matter by subverting the main image and creating a dialogue between the macrocosm and microcosm.
Take the piece, Ali vs Armstrong; here we see the iconic image of Muhammed Ali’s victory composed of thousands of tiny portraits of Neil Armstrong. Cao seamlessly ties together two astronomical events from the ‘60s: Ali’s incredible career and the moon landing. Another piece, A Thousand Kisses Deep, Lichtenstein vs Warhol, innovatively recreates a beautiful Lichtenstein work using only images of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe’s Lips. In his skillful combination of these pieces, the artist draws on the similar visual effects of their works and bridges the divide between these two great pop artists.
Cao’s ability to form a myriad of connections extends beyond any one unique piece. In today’s media-driven world, his refreshing interpretations on familiar images offers insight into the power and saturation of the visual culture; this collection forces us to reconcile with the magnitude of images that are imposed into our collective. His pieces play with the way we process visual stimuli and challenge our interpretations of these iconic images. From James Dean to Salma Hayek, his work travels through time, creating a fascinating visual history of pop culture and developing unseen relationships.
Alex Guofeng Cao currently lives and works in New York City. He was born and raised in China and moved to the United States in the 1980s. He attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York where he studied photography. He has showcased his work throughout the United States and several of his pieces are currently on display in museums such as the Portland Art Museum and the American Museum of Asmat Art.