artnet Asks: Cao Jun

Cao's artwork is being used to help test the function of lunar spacecraft.

Cao Jun Courtesy of the artist.

As his status as a renowned Chinese artist has grown, Chinese artist Cao Jun has moved all over the world. Jun is currently in New York. Most recently, on October 24, one of Jun’s works, Space of Seeking Dream, was launched into space in an unmanned Chang’e-5 space probe to the moon with no intent to return to Earth; the purpose of Jun’s painting launch is to help test the function of the probe.

Although he is known for his classical Chinese depictions of nature scenes, Jun is also a skilled gestural abstraction painter. In March 2013 the Jiangyan city government founded the Cao Jun Art Gallery in his honor, and in the same year, he was awarded the Gold Award at the Carrousel du Louvre Salon in Paris. His work has been exhibited extensively throughout China and internationally, including at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing and at the Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum in Nanjing.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
When I was a child I knew I wanted to be an artist, though my parents didn’t agree with it.

Cao Jun, 乖乖虎 (Well-behaved tiger) (+ shitang) , (2012), ink and color on paper, on hanging scroll, 69.5 x 69 cm. (27.4 x 27.2 in.) Photo: artnet Price Database

Cao Jun, 乖乖虎 (Well-behaved tiger) (+ shitang) (2012)
Ink and color on paper, on hanging scroll, 27.4 x 27.2 in.
Photo courtesy of the artnet Price Database.

What inspires you?
There are many things that give me inspiration, especially reading, traveling, and music.

Cao Jun, 雨中得句 (Lotus) , (2012), ink and color on paper, decorated w/gold paint, mounted, 16.1 x 16.1 in. Photo: artnet Price Database

Cao Jun, 雨中得句 (Lotus) (2012)
Ink and color on paper, decorated with gold paint, mounted, 16.1 x 16.1 in.
Photo courtesy of the artnet Price Database.

If you could own any work of modern or contemporary art, what would it be?
I like many modern and contemporary works, but if I could own one, I would like to have a work by Henri Matisse.

Cao Jun, 临水岸 (Lotus) , (2011),ink and color on paper, decorated w/gold paint, mounted, 33.5 x 33.5 cm. (13.2 x 13.2 in.) Photo: artnet Price Database

Cao Jun, 临水岸 (Lotus) (2011)
Ink and color on paper, decorated w/gold paint, mounted, 33.5 x 33.5 cm. (13.2 x 13.2 in.)
Photo courtesy of the artnet Price Database.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on creating more paintings, which use comprehensive materials to express the beautiful world in my heart. Meanwhile, I’m preparing for my solo exhibition in China in 2015.

If you couldn’t be an artist, what would you like to do?
If I could not make art, I would want to be a soldier defending my country.


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