Tina Keng Gallery is pleased to present To Gallivant: The Paintings of Su Xiaobai, a project that highlights the artist's new body of work made during the end of 2019 and 2020. Under the siege of a global pandemic, the artist has been compelled to turn inward in his isolation in search of equilibrium in his art making. The intangible vestiges of time engrained with solitude and mystery, awash in crisp, pellucid hues, cloister in the works of Su Xiaobai that attest the artist's meditative saunter.
In Su Xiaobai's hand, lacquer — a thousand-year-old plant material and a symbol of Eastern culture — embodies the concept of existence, posing a philosophical discourse on our daily life through the artist's poetic transformation. To rediscover the duality between art and object, and renew his perspective towards the traditional culture of his ancestry, Su first began experimenting lacquer on linen, bricks, sackcloth, clay, vine, and wood as a substitute for oil on canvas. The artist paints layers of vibrantly coloured lacquer in a structural and balanced composition, rendering a three-dimensional momentum. The seemingly arbitrary, yet meticulously deliberate handling of visual forms reveals the artist's pursuit of aesthetics and his personal sense of reinvention.
Shifting away from his usual palette of warm and muted tones, Su's 2020 series is suffused with a crispness accentuated by the bright and light colours that dominate his works. The substrate of his work is transformed into a slender version of its predecessor, allowing the work of svelteness, seemingly suspended on the wall, to engage in a quiet dialogue with the space it occupies. The layers of lacquer coalesce into a textured grace rendered by the repeated act of overlaying and washing away the centuries-old medium. The textured grace reverberates with a rebellious spirit that has come to define Su Xiaobai's practice in the tumultuous year — an urge to gallivant in a realm manifested through the sheer force of artistic creation.
Press release courtesy Tina Keng Gallery.