14 May–15 July, 2014

Painting and Being

Su Xiaobai

Hong Kong


HONG KONG—Su Xiaobai is a major and singular artist, part of that legendary generation who left China in the 80s. Over the last ten years or so he has developed a sensuous yet rigorous art that defies classification, as befits an artist who studied at Kunstakademie Dusseldorf in the 90s, and yet whose own chosen medium, lacquer, is steeped in Chinese history. His reputation is continuously growing, and his art can be found in museum collections from China through Taiwan and Germany, while galleries from France to China vie to showcase him.

Pearl Lam Galleries is delighted to present this new solo show Su Xiaobai: Painting and Being to coincide with Art Basel in Hong Kong, curated by the distinguished curator of Western abstract art Paul Moorhouse. Formerly of Tate and now at London’s National Portrait Gallery, Moorhouse has curated shows with Lucien Freud and Gerhard Richter, among others.

Pearl Lam Galleries is the leading gallery voice in Asia in supporting abstract art. Su Xiaobai’s exhibition follows on from the gallery’s acclaimed exhibition Chinese Contemporary Abstract: 1980s until Present: Mindmap, in which Su was a distinguished participant.

There is nothing simply traditional about Su’s arresting and compelling art which both engages with the language of Western abstract art, and also with the traditions of Buddhist Sutra: ‘Everything is nothing, nothing is everything’. There are connections between an artist like Malevich’s use of the black square as icon and Su Xiaobai’s sculptural abstracts, as well as connections between the artist’s work and traditions of Chinese art (in for example the use of red and black). In an interview, Su has said that he ‘has left nothing behind’—that is, he has rejected nothing he has learned—and this is very visible in his ravishing and thoughtful paintings.

The new exhibition at Pearl Lam Galleries provides the first opportunity to see the quite extraordinary work of Su Xiaobai of the last two years. These paintings attest to the artist’s continuing intense vision, and yet reveal that he remains as ambitious and exploratory as ever. These new works are both hedonistic and mystical, and defiantly sculptural while exquisitely painted. In the exhibition, there is a preponderance of white works, where the tension between the refined surfaces and fractures in those surfaces produces an intense emotional experience, which is complemented by an installation overseen by the artist who lights each work so it emerges from the surrounding darkness. These paintings are extraordinary objects.

Selected works