He studied Art History at the University of Oviedo (Spain), where he received his Ph.D. in 1992. Analyzing art, the mechanics of art making, and advertising strategies, he creates projects in which art processes and the theoretical and commercial components of them become key elements of his open-ended works. Cao, unfaithful to any particular medium, uses a wide range of disciplines and materials.
He is currently working on two parallel projects: Eternal Rest and the Psycho-Linguistic-Retro-Futuristic Cabinet. Both were presented in October 2012 at Art-Amalgamated, New York, and MART, Rovereto, Italy. In 2011 his work was shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as part of the exhibition Facets of Figuration, as well as at the 8 Mercosul Biennale, Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Among his long-term projects are Dance Poison (2009-On going), a 71 minutes film commissioned by CGAC (Santiago de Compostela, Spain), currently expanding into a series of historical installations; the Look-alike Contest Series (2001-2004) organized in collaboration with El Museo del Barrio (NYC, USA), El Prado Museum (Madrid, Spain), Casa de América (Madrid, Spain), the Art Museum of Nuoro (Sardinia, Italy), and the Jovellanos Museum (Gijón, Spain); and the Rent-a-Body business enterprise (1993-1998) organized in collaboration with Creative Time, Inc. (NYC, USA.)
Among his public projects and solo exhibitions are Don’t Touch the White Woman, 2006 (Claire Oliver Gallery, NY); Border 2000 (Public Safety, Skoghall, Sweeden); La ciudad de Dios, 1999 (Artfutura, Seville, Spain); and Alma Mater, 1997 (Joan Miró Foundation, Barcelona, Spain).
He has participated in group exhibitions and events organized, among others, by the New Museum (New York, USA); Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil (Mexico City, México); BOZAR (Brussells, Belgium); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid, Spain), White Box (New York, USA); Blue Star Art Space (San Antonio, Texas, USA); Anne Faggionato Gallery (London, England); Nie Gallery (Munich, Germany); and Círculo de Bellas Artes (Madrid, Spain.)
He has lectured at Princeton University, New Jersey; Parsons School, New York University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Göteborg Universitet, Gothenberg, Sweden; and at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and Universidad Politécnica de Barcelona, all in Spain.
He is the recipient of XVII Espais prize (Spain.) _He has been awarded grants, among others, by the Marcelino Botín Foundation (Spain) and Franklin Furnace (USA.)
He is the author of the following books: The museum of the Victim, 2009 (MV Editions); JP-UM, 2005 (Llibros del Pexe), Fèlix Bermeu. A Hidden Life, 2004 (Ajuntament de Terrassa, Hangar), Ignoto, 2002 (MAN), and Rent-a-Body, 1999 (Maguncia, S.L.)
His work has been reviewed, among others, by The New York Times, The Village Voice, The New Yorker, Los Angeles Times, ArtNews, El País, El Mundo, ABC, La razón; and La Vanguardia.