SHANGHAI—As one of China’s most distinctive painters, Su Xiaobai’s blends East and West drawing on his Chinese heritage while employing elements of modern and contemporary Western art, Artsy writes, to produce his evocative, abstract multimedia paintings, each composed of layers upon layers of oil paint and lacquer on wood and linen—giving a stunning, almost improbable, effect of glossy tile.
The combination of lacquer—a luxurious, glossy resin used as a coating on household furnishings for thousands of years throughout East Asia—and washes of oil paint—referencing such artists as Mark Rothko and Gerhard Richter—effectively unites ancient and modern, China and the West.
Featured image:Su Xiaobai, Immersed , 2016, Oil, lacquer, linen, emulsion, and wood, 73 3/5 × 71 7/10 × 6 3/10 inches. Available from Tina Keng Gallery
Su’s early work was inclined towards social realism and the figurative, Pearl Lam Galleries writes, however, while spending time in Germany around the avant-garde scene, Western art radically affected his outlook.
During the 1990s his work became progressively less figurative, and following his return to China in 2003 it has increasingly focused on the essential characteristics of colour, shape and surface.
Su sees each work as a path, a form of meditation, absent of intention or recognizable imagery. Su’s arresting and compelling art engages both with the language of Western abstract art and also with the traditions of Chinese philosophy, the gallery writes.
Su Xiaobai has developed a sensuous yet rigorous art that defies classification, and yet whose own chosen medium, lacquer, is steeped in Chinese history. Su’s works are both hedonistic and mystical, defiantly sculptural while exquisitely painted. Ranging from shell-like finishes to sensuous, curved profiles and abraded textures, they exist entirely on their own terms, possessing their own history, character and independent existence.
Centered on the quality of the materials and the relationships between them, his paintings are, at base, beautiful objects of contemplation, with their deliciously tactile, glossy surfaces.
“My object is the surface layer presented on the painting.”
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