21 September—2 November, 2023
A DIARY OF STATES OF MIND: Su Xiaobai, Leonardo Drew, Dale Frank
Hong Kong—Presented by Pearl Lam Galleries, A Diary of States of Mind is a journey into the minds of three artists: Su Xiaobai, Leonardo Drew, and Dale Frank, each presenting a unique perspective on how their daily engagement with art serves as a means of self-reflection, liberation, and transformation. The exhibition beckons viewers to delve into the laborious art practices where the boundaries of materiality, time, and emotion blur, giving rise to the search for the essence of art.
Titled A Diary of States of Mind, the exhibition underscores how daily artistic practice cultivates an interiority through the making of art objects and precipitates material transformation to celebrate the autonomy of art. This group exhibition focuses on the emergence of the artists’ inner worlds and how we as viewers come to terms with such visual experiences in return.
With precision, Chinese artist Su Xiaobai reduces the materiality of the artwork to investigate its core meaning, creating curved, textured, and sculpture-like entities that are both tactile and contemplative. His daily ritual of applying and layering lacquer paint on linen is a meditative process that captures the ever-evolving states of his mind. Subtle undulations, light and shadows, depth of texture, tactile sensations, and movements in his paintings serve as tangible traces, inviting viewers to explore his inner world. Su’s use of traditional Chinese lacquer not only reflects his deep connection to China’s past but, more importantly, also conveys a sense of longing to bring forth the innate quality of the medium. Su’s art refrains from explicit meaning, hence inviting us to enter into his states of mind.
New York-based sculptor Leonardo Drew’s approach to raw materials is a powerful manifestation that draws from the memories of his own lived experience in the city. Drew uses jagged, gold-plated shards of porcelain to create “living” works that engage in a profound dialogue between geology and modernity. His creations, weathered and stacked to resemble the debris and ruins from urbanisation, carry the weight of his daily contemplation.
Drew claims: “There are a number of different dimensions you can arrive at with the actual material. So much history feeds into it. They keep evolving. Each piece is unique and may come from our different iterations, but each time we use them, they become stronger.”
Drew’s work reflects the cyclical nature of contemporary life, mirroring the ever-shifting states of his mind as he transforms raw materials into thought-provoking objects. His emphasis on materiality squarely challenges the viewer’s expectations, inviting the public to reconsider the origins of materials and their capacity to retain memories of form that are characterised by chaos and entropy—a testament to an ongoing dialogue with the world around him.
Refusing to be limited by the materiality of art, Australian Dale Frank expresses the unpredictable quality of his subconscious through the act of creation itself. Frank views his artworks as independent beings, with lives of their own, continuously evolving and rupturing. For him, painting becomes an open form for expressing a transcendental state not bound by worldly events nor individual authorship. In Frank’s oeuvre, time is a central theme—an ever-present issue that he masters as he paints. His creations capture the ephemeral nature of time, inviting viewers to partake in the exploration of the temporal nature of the mind. Through his innovative use of Perspex and reflective imageries, Frank challenges viewers to contemplate their own containment by what they see, creating a schism in between mediums and aesthetics.