A solo show of lacquer paintings by one of China’s most celebrated contemporary artists
curated by Paul Moorhouse

Pearl Lam Galleries
Hong Kong, China
14 May – 15 July 2014

Su Xiaobai, Two Sides (2013), Oil, lacquer, linen and wood, 170 x 120 cm Su Xiaobai, Elegant Stance (2013), Oil, lacquer, linen and wood, 155 x 120 cm

Su Xiaobai, Two Sides (2013), Oil, lacquer, linen and wood, 170 x 120 cm
Su Xiaobai, Elegant Stance (2013), Oil, lacquer, linen and wood, 155 x 120 cm

Pearl Lam Galleries is delighted to present Painting and Being, an important solo exhibition of new and recent work by Chinese artist Su Xiaobai, curated by Paul Moorhouse; on show from 14 May – 15 July 2014 at Pearl Lam Galleries Hong Kong.

Ranging from exquisitely rendered, shell-like finishes to sensuous, curved profiles and abraded textures, the works exist entirely on their own terms, possessing their own history, character and independent existence.

Su Xiaobai is regarded as one of China’s foremost contemporary artists, whose work bridges cultural barriers and notions of art historical expression. The development of Su Xiaobai’s work is strongly associated with a return to China after he studied at the Düsseldorf Art Academy under Gerhard Richter, where his work was deeply influenced by notions of modernism and the western traditions of abstraction.

After years spent shedding the figurative associations of Socialist Realism inherited from the Cultural Revolution, Su’s break into pure abstraction and his discovery of lacquer – a material traditionally associated with traditional Chinese craft – has been read as deeply nationalistic.

Imbuing these traditional materials with modernist notions of colour theory learnt in Germany, Su’s work simultaneously recalls the work of Mark Rothko and lacquered Chinese furniture, in a dialogue between East and West.

Stripped of figurative representation, Su Xiaobai’s practice allows the colour and texture of the materials to sing. A chemical process mixing lacquer with water, oil, powder and pigment encourages unpredictable forms and markings to appear on the surface, with minute cracks and pitting taking the viewer’s attention, as the colour beneath appears to develop and breathe.

In the repetitive motion of painting layers of lacquer and oil paint onto linen or wood, Su also refers to the processes involved in ink painting, another process steeped in historical and cultural associations of China. Recalling inherited cultural histories, lacquer painting harks back to the romanticism of handmade objects where the work of the craftsman is visible.

Following Su Xiaobai’s solo exhibition The Dynasty of Colours at the Langen Foundation, Germany in 2010, he was recently celebrated with a major exhibition showcasing work from 2006–2013, GRAND IMMENSITYThe Art of Xiaobai Su, at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan. His work will also be on show in the UK at Art14 London at Pearl Lam Galleries’ stand A2 from 28 February–4 March 2014.

Pearl Lam, Founder, said, ‘Su Xiaobai’s work consistently crosses barriers between the abstract and physical, drawing detail from colours and texture, and creating a unique dialogue between contrasting artistic practices.

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