Art as Heritage: Caroline Young and Gongbi

Oakridge is pleased to offer two early works by Caroline Young, a Chinese-American artist taking a unique thematic approach to the traditional Gongbi style of painting.

Young paints on swathes of Japanese silk, producing arresting panels steeped in rich color palettes. They display scenes of nature and its forces with a surprising depth in contrast to the delicacy of the canvas, creating ”images [that] seem to glow with a soft, rich, purity of color.” (Hudson 2008)

The Gongbi style is characterized by meticulous precision, usually depicting figural subjects in a highly colored tableau. (Encyclopaedia Britannica 2002) The intense color of Young’s art is accomplished by applying several light washes of color, taking weeks to complete a piece.

After seeing The Last Emperor in 1988, Young pivoted to a more thematically avant-garde approach to Gongbi, depicting scenes from Chinese mythology and history while incorporating more saturated hues. (Steward 2006) Young was already acclaimed for her work with Japanese themes, which she still continues to paint, but shifted to Chinese cultural themes as well as a way to honor her heritage.

Her more recent works explore the narrative created from the intersection of myth and history in Chinese folklore. She uses myths that address the mysteries of the world as frequent themes.

By exploring these themes in her art, Young feels that she has “a second chance to learn the essence of [her] own culture and to discover what it means to be Chinese.” (Young)

Young’s watercolor on silk paintings “Winter Stroll” and “Tulips” will be offered during Oakridge's Japanese and Korean Arts sale on October 14th.


Hudson, Bill. "The Gongbi Art of Caroline Young." Accessed September 13, 2022.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Gongbi (Chinese Painting)." Encyclopaedia Britannica. Accessed September 13, 2022.

Steward, J. Rose. "Caroline Young Paints the Zodiac for Children." InformArt. Fall 2006. (accessed September 13, 2022).

Young, Caroline. "Biography." Caroline Young Studios. Accessed September 13, 2022.

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