The state of existence and the life experience of individuals has always been the subject of inquiry in the works of Kuo Wei Kuo. My Little Bird of Youth (Lot 1631) is typical of this series, with the archetypal nude figure as its centerpiece. Nudity, as Kuo has said, is the symbol of desire in its primal form, embodying our primal nature, humanity and divine virtue. Upon their own bodies human beings shape their own vision of self and social persona. Kuo is deeply interested in Jacques Lacan's "mirror theory". Drawing on the development of children, Lacan's theorized that as an infant grows and manages to recognize himself in the mirror, he begins to be conscious of the distinction between his experiential self and his objective self. The real self is suppressed to allow for an image that complies with, and is favorable to, the external social norms. Wandering through the tension between the fragmented, objective body and the real self, human beings experience intense emotions of frustration, conflict, confusion, loss and anxiety. The work of Kuo Wei Kuo represents his ongoing investigation into this fundamental paradox of identity. The figure, modeled upon the portrayal of the artist himself, is depicted clothed in animal skins, neither villainous nor virtuous, somehow both unprincipled and timid. He is like a mythical god, or else a banished beast; he is depicted as an individual with unknown identity and strong, intricate desires.
My Little Bird of Youth also showcases the artistic technique and representation skills of Kuo Wei Kuo. He adopts a photorealist style, rendering delicate textures of the skin of the figure, the rock and the crepe. At the same time, the composition is infused with symbols and metaphors; in the artist's words, the rock is an emblem of immutability, the red crepe of suppressed desire and of mortality, and the bird of freedom. The juxtaposition of contradicting imagery engenders a visual tension through which the artist expresses his core themes, imputing a surreal, fantastic ambience. Invoking the works of Western oil painters, from van Eyck and Bosch to Rembrandt and Magritte, the artist lays special emphasis on the scene of his work, coating the composition with muted but rich colors. The purplish red, emerald green, black, grey and white are subdued; their curbed brightness and contrast achieve a distinct and remote tone, divesting the composition of any objective personality and enhancing a sense of visual desolation. Beneath the seemingly harmonic tone of color there is a depth of intense, contrasting sentiments, which mark the uniqueness, both in theme and expression, of the works of Kuo Wei Kuo.