Raeleen Kao's work is grounded in her early memories of a critical heart surgery at age three and a resulting obsession with death, a very unusual subject for a child. She uses bodily imagery: hair, skin and scars to depict the interrelationship of mortality, bodily frailty, consciousness, and identity as signifiers for the interplay between life and death. Kao sees vanity as a futile foil against deterioration, the frailty of the body and its grounded physical realities as a truth more potent than any other. Her drawings expose extreme personal vulnerabilities yet project a quiet and profound sophistication.
Kao is also a skilled printmaker, working in a variety of subjects. Her etchings are subtle and detailed etudes to the natural world and human realities.