This issue’s cover artist, Yang Cao, focuses his paintings on the capricious nature of human emotion. He abstracts his realistic figures with crowns of clouds or he removes their heads altogether. The results are at once unsettling and relatable as the tone of each painting is uncertain and the audience is left to decipher the mood.
The mercurial subject of our cover painting, Liminal XVII, appears joyful, perhaps surprised: she’s smiling, her cheeks are rosy, but we can’t see her eyes. The top half of her head is swathed in a cotton candy cloud; lightning flashes inside. The pink glow of the storm inside sits at odds with the austere gray-blue of the background.
In an interview with Tussle Magazine, Cao discussed his reasons for the clouds. He said he “like[s] the unpredictability of the cloud. It’s shapeless and changes all the time, it follows the wind and never stays in one form and place. Somehow I find this as a resemblance to our human nature and mind.”
Cao works from life, using photos and models, but he takes a fluid approach to his practice. He considers his process to be one of trial and error, saying, “It’s like looking back to the messy footprints and realizing that I’m making a track, but I don’t yet know where to set my next foot.”
You can see more of his work at www.yangcaoart.com.