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Su Xiaobai in #InDetail

Today we go #InDetail with one of Su Xiaobai’s lacquer paintings, Cobalt Blue Charm 魅藍, 2019.

One of China’s foremost contemporary artists, Su Xiaobai is recognized for a sensuous yet rigorous body of painting inspired by both the artistic heritage of his native China and Western developments in modern abstraction. He began painting with lacquer—a centuries-old material and technique synonymous with East Asian culture—on linen and bricks, later experimenting with oils, sackcloth, clay, vines, and wood as a substitute for oil on canvas. These thick layers of vibrantly colored lacquer create a balanced composition, whilst simultaneously integrating the artist’s own unique take on his cultural heritage.

Throughout his early years as an artist, Su’s work tended towards social realism. However, exposure to avant-garde Western art radically affected his outlook and throughout the 1990s, his work became increasingly less figurative. Following his return to China after living in Germany for a number of years, Su began to focus on the essential characteristics of color, shape, and surface and shifted to incorporate Lacquer as his primary medium. His practice as a painter is both ritualistic and contemplative, Su spends a great deal of time in what he considers a “dialogue” with his work. Through this meditative process and a masterly command of his materials, Su achieves the delicate, complex and mutable surfaces that define his work, which ultimately blur the space between painting and object.

#SuXiaobai, Cobalt Blue Charm 魅藍, 2019, oil, lacquer, linen and wood, 72 13/16 x 70 1/16 x 5 1/8 inches

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