Cao Yong - Contemporary Art London Thursday, June 21, 2007 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private collection, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    Cao Yong graduated from the art department of Lanzhou Normal University in Gansu Province in 1983. His work has been included in the seminal exhibition Inside Out: New Chinese Art at the Asia Society in 1998, as well as the First Guangzhou Oil Painting Biennale in Guangdong. “Time, Environment - A Flat Red Division,” an early work from 1994, is a humorous satire of the Communist state at a time when market capitalism was just taking root in China. In this work, a flag very similar to that of the People’s Republic of China is being rapidly unraveled from its top by a variety of winged insects. At the flag’s foot, rats have neatly carved out doorways that undermine the foundation of the five silver stars; the rats’ tails are attached to the doors they have carved out of the flag like computer mice. The interconnected binary divisions within the painting indicate the interplay of forces at work: the insects appear made out of the flag’s very fabric, and the rodents from the darkness behind the flag. If the flag is a metaphor for Communist ideology, the contest to destroy it appears to lie between abandonment, as depicted in the insects’ flight, and corruption, as symbolized by the destructive rats.


Time, Environment - A Flat Red Division

Oil on canvas.
52 1/2 x 42 in. (133.4 x 106.7 cm).

£10,000 - 15,000 

Sold for £14,400

Contemporary Art

22 June 2007, 4pm & 5pm