The Digital Mosaics Of Alex Guofeng Cao - Fabrik - Feb 2013

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Intricate and ingenious - the work of artist Alex Guofeng Co is resonating on a global scale. A specialist of digitally enhanced photography, Guofeng Co's ouvre sees him deconstructing iconic photographs and reassembling them with his trademark pixilated images.

Cao's detailed, awe inspiring work sees him study and experiment with a variety of photographic  techniques. His highly innovative photomosaic style melds old world and new, with digital innovation seeking inspiration by such masters as Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Edward Weston, and Robert Mapplethorpe.

Having been lauded internationally for his work,  the New York based is constantly exhibiting, with  recent shows including Art  Basel Miami, The LA Artshow, Guy Hepner gallery in West Hollywood and the forthcoming Palm Springs Artfair (opening February 15)

Asked about his choice of imagery for his work Cao reveals his preferences have spanned a spectrum of subject matter. His earlier "Legend," series saw a fascination with icons and celebrity. "I have worked with many from Lindsay Lohan to  Tommy Lee Jones, they share a common musicality that translates internationally." 

Yet his current series, "Masters," is rather an observation of classical icons over pop, with reinterpreted and recontextualised images of works by Roy Lichtenstein, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Edward Weston. Of the latter series he reveals "its is more an exploration  of antiquity and classicism,  an expression of my affection for renaissance art."

Another great source of inspiration are impressions from his trip a decade ago of the mosaic floors and walls of Naples and Pompeii. "It's the combination of these two base strategies that allows my work to take shape."

In keeping with this historic homage, on a technical level Cao says that despite his fascination with the digital medium, monochrome tradition is something he still romanticizes. "The subtle gradations of tone between deep black and stark white are the generators for all the colors  I need to create my world."

The  work sees  the artist processing well-known images into grids of thousands of copies of a smaller, related image. Cao  then re-connects the circuits of historical meaning by breaking down the original analogue photograph into digital photo-mosaics that literalize the logic of their own production.

Cao does not allow the ease of the computer's mechanical repetitions have the final say. In each large photomosaic, made up of tens of thousands of virtual pixels, the repeated, embedded image is interrupted at least once in the overall grid, replaced in one or more locations with yet another, still related picture. In his latest series he is deviating more and more from the original image,.

Of the creative process Cao says he is "composing a mosaic of memories into an impression of the present."   He adds, "I am Impressed and greatly influenced by the ideal forms and proportions of the iconic and statuesque sculptures of the ancient Egypt, Greek and Roman eras."

He adds, "The powerful oversized main images and the armies of tiny images that compose them are specifically paired to create a dialogue.  The histories and backgrounds of each of the characters are pitted against each other."   

With a background in commercial photography, Cao immigrated to the US from China  at the age of 13.  His career as a commercial photographer before  the recent transition to fine art saw him  working with a slew of high caliber clients including magazines Vogue, Cosmopolitan New York Times  Cartier Chanel and Kodak

According to LA gallerist Guy Hepner, who is currently showing  the work at his West Hollywood space, "Alex Guofeng Cao's images are imposing and arresting to say the least. His powerful oversized fine art photographs and the armies of tiny images that compose them are specifically paired to create a dialogue."

The art of Alex Guofeng Co can be seen at Guy Hepner gallery in Los Angeles through February and beyond. It will also be shown at a key booth at the Palm Springs Artfair,  February 15 - 17.

The work can be viewed at

Written by Craig Stephens

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