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藝術門 登布希山 新加坡 Pearl Lam Galleries(Dempsey Hill)Singapore
2016.11.24 Thu - 2016.12.24 Sat
Opening Exhibition
Opening Hours
何敏齐Chloe Ho / Pearl Lam Galleries gallerysg@pearllamgalleries.com / +65 6570 2284

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Luminescence: Su Xiaobai solo exhibition, Pearl Lam Galleries
[Press Release]

Singapore—Pearl Lam Galleries is pleased to present a solo exhibition of Chinese born artist Su Xiaobai (b. 1949, Wuhan, China). Curated by Christiane Maria Schneider, artistic director of the Langen Foundation in Neuss, Su’s highly contemporary artworks combine the vocabulary of an international artistic style, cultivated during his studies in Germany, with an aesthetic and philosophical practice rooted in Chinese tradition. Self-restraint is at the core of Su Xiaobai’s artistic beliefs. His gift of expressing a grand vision through simple forms has made him one of the most profound artists to address the question of existence through art since the Abstract Expressionists.


In an echo of what the German-American painter Josef Albers (1888–1976) referred to as the materie, the manipulation of the external appearance or character of the work perceived by touch and vision, Su Xiaobai gradually reduces the primacy of material form over the work itself, integrating the material into its core until it becomes inseparable from the work. This impulse originates from his explorations of the alternative energy present in materie. Ignoring the dangers of obstacles or failures, Su’s poetic inspiration remains unwavering throughout these artistic experiments. He is not afraid to express sincerity in his work, trusting his intuition to bring him towards the actualisation of a simple yet rich “concrete reality” in his experiments. The innocuous flat plane of painting is transformed using the techniques of bodiless lacquerware, creating entities that are curved, textured, and sculpture-like. These works stand at the boundary of object and artwork. Each mark, crease, indentation, and crack documents Su’s complex and time-consuming production process.

The changing form of his paintings is not meant to convey a subject or a meaning, nor does it narrate a concept or express personal emotions. Day after day, he applies colours on linen, polishes layers of lacquer, introduces subtle undulations, light and shadows, depth of texture, tactile sensations, and movement into his artworks. The artist has elevated his “material” from something with practical use to the embodiment of a meditative state. It is exactly because the material has been taken as meditation rather than a tool of description that the works are able to contain rich cultural implications, expressing a non-traditional visual force and existential power.

Su Xiaobai has an independent view of the world. Influenced by Western philosophy’s view on the nature of existence and ontological argument, Su chose lacquer, a traditional Chinese material with thousands of years of history, as a material to embody his artistic ideology. Lacquer not only possesses a distinctive and majestic range of colours but also a unique temperament; during the process, if there is a lapse in temperature-control, humidity, lighting, or ventilation, the surface of the lacquer will not dry for a long time. In contrast to traditional methods of working with lacquer, Su deliberately cracks and wrinkles what is supposed to be a glossy exterior and creates undulating and textured rather than smooth surfaces, breaking up what is meant to be a whole. Su identifies with the Daoist belief of “action through inaction” by resisting the allure of traditional presentation and not relying on the innate nature of lacquer. Using the ideas of materie, Su indicates presence and quality, speaking in its unique language and creating an undeniable tension on the surface of the artwork.

This exhibition will present a series of subtle and understated monochromatic paintings. The choice of colours and hues that only vary slightly brings about a kind of mystery. In the all-white Luminous White series, a rich and expressive range of tone is still present and reflects the beauty and simplicity that is the essence of these works.

“Precisely because there is no overwhelming effect enveloping us, the attentiveness is focused not solely on the object, but in fact reaches and changes our consciousness by allowing us to experience ourselves engaging in the act of seeing.”

—Christiane Maria Schneider

About the Curator

Christiane Maria Schneider studied art history, German literature, and philosophy in Munich, Bonn, and Cologne. Since 2010, she has been the artistic director of the Langen Foundation in Neuss where she has curated the solo exhibitions of Pae White, Otto Piene, Olafur Eliasson, and Richard Deacon, as well as presentations of the Langen collection with a focus on Western painting of the 20th century and historical Asian art. She has also worked as a curator for Kunst in der Leipziger Messe in Leipzig (1994–97) and Mai 98, Kunsthalle in Cologne (1998), among others. Following her assistance at Dia Art Foundation in New York (2002–2004), she was Director of Exhibitions at Haunch of Venison where she conceived the gallery’s exhibition program and curated shows with works by Rachel Whiteread, Diana Thater, Thomas Nozkowski, Jorge Pardo, Richard Long, and Andy Warhol, as well as the thematic group show Animals. From 2005 to 2010, she led westlondonprojects, a London art space with an exhibition and residency program, where she has given emergent and renowned artists like Thea Djordjadze, Wade Guyton, Karla Black, Joan Jonas, Charline von Heyl, and Manfred Kuttner their first solo exhibitions in London.

Schneider has also contributed to art magazines such as Afterall, frieze, Metropolis M, among others, as well as exhibition catalogues. She is also the editor of numerous catalogues and publications on contemporary art.

About the Artist

Su Xiaobai, one of China’s most distinctive painters, was born in 1949 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. In 1965, he joined the School of Arts and Crafts in Wuhan, and from 1985 to 1987 he studied oil painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. In 1987, he moved to Germany to pursue his postgraduate studies at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (Düsseldorf State Arts Academy), returning to China in 2003. He currently lives and works between Shanghai and Düsseldorf.

Solo exhibitions include Painting and Being (2014), Pearl Lam Galleries, Hong Kong; Grand Immensity: The Art of Su Xiaobai (2013), National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan; Su Xiaobai (2010), Raketenstation Hombroich, Neuss, Germany; The Dynasty of Colours (2009), Langen Art Foundation, Neuss, Germany; Kao Gong Ji—Su Xiaobai Solo Exhibition (2008), Today Art Museum, Beijing, China; and Great Form is Shapeless, Su Xiaobai Solo Exhibition (2007), Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China. Selected group exhibitions include The World Is Yours, as Well as Ours (2016), White Cube Mason’s Yard, London, UK; The Act of Painting in Contemporary China (2015), PAC Milan Museum of Contemporary Art, Italy; Where Does It All Begin? Contemporary Abstract Art in Asia and the West (2014), Pearl Lam Galleries, Singapore; Chinese Contemporary Abstract, 1980s Until Present: MINDMAP (2012), Pearl Lam Galleries, Hong Kong, China; and Yi Pai: Thirty Years of Chinese Abstract Art (2008), Beijing, China and Madrid, Spain.