Tango Gao is a cartoonist from Shanghai, who has gained a global online following with his thought-provoking visual humor. Since 2010 he specializes in pantomime comics where the punchline is an optical illusion. Due to the lack of dialogue and gentle, witty comedy he became one of the most popular web comic artists worldwide. Since 2014 his work has also appeared in printed media. 

Early life and education
Tango is the cartoonist identity of Gao Youjun (高幼军), a visual artist born in 1966 in Shanghai into a traditional middle-class family. His father was in the military, while his mother was a kindergarten teacher. He showed an early talent for painting and sculpting, and at age 10 he already saw his work exhibited in an overseas show curated by the United Nations. A further pursuit of a career in the arts was however forbidden by his parents, and instead Gao went to study mathematics at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Even though a professional life of science didn't interest him one bit, the experience gave him a mathematical approach to solving problems, which has remained a lasting influence on his drawings. Upon graduation, Gao went against his parents' wishes and enrolled at the Central Academy of Arts and Design, where he received his master's degree. During the late 1990s he began his career as a visual artist in the advertising industry.

Venture into cartooning
He didn't turn to actual cartooning until 2010, when a friend challenged him to post one cartoon a day on the Chinese social media site Weibo. Initially, he merely made caricatures of his friends, pleasing only an incrowd audience. He however quickly transitioned to the visual jokes he became known for. These drawings caught on and, because they have no words, also gained a worldwide following through western social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Using the monickers "Tango", "Tango Gao" and "Shanghai Tango", the cartoonist has become a global hit with his tongue-in-cheek, simplistic drawings. With clever visual humor, Tango, in his own words, "pokes fun at the everyday routines and oddities of modern life." Some drawings are graphic experiments with shapes and forms, fooling the reader with visual jokes. Cats, dogs and other animals are recurring subjects, but the author also uses everyday objects as inspiration. Some cartoons even make use of actual objects, which the author gives a new purpose when combined with his drawings in a photograph. Tango sometimes gives subtle social and cultural criticism, most notably aimed at smartphone-gazing millenials and their fascination with technology and social media. A critic of censorship in his home country, he has also used his art to comment on Chinese and American politics.

Tango Gao's cartoons have been collected in a couple of books, starting with 'Sleepless' (2014) and 'Stop Dreaming: I Have a Dream' (2015) in his home country. 'Backside of the Moon' (Skyhorse, 2017) was his first release in the United States. His work has furthermore been exhibited in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Brussels, Cheonan Korea, Paris and New York.


Series and books by Tango Gao in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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