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Pearl Lam Galleries (Hong Kong)
2014.05.14 Wed - 2014.07.15 Tue
Opening Exhibition
05/14/2014 10:00
Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Hong Kong
+852 2522 1428
Opening Hours
Monday–Saturday 10 am – 7 pm
Pearl Lam

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Su Xiaobai – Painting and Being
[Press Release]

A solo show of lacquer paintings by one of China’s most celebrated contemporary artists, curated by Paul Moorhouse, to coincide with Art Basel in Hong Kong.

Exhibition Dates

14 May 2014–15 July 2014

Monday-Saturday, 10am–7pm

Pearl Lam Galleries, 601–605, 6/F, Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong

Pearl Lam Galleries is delighted to present Painting and Being, an important solo exhibition of new and recent work by Chinese artist Su Xiaobai, curated by Paul Moorhouse; on show from 14 May – 15 July 2014 at Pearl Lam Galleries Hong Kong. Coinciding with Art Basel in Hong Kong 2014 the exhibition will be a highlight of the city’s cultural calendar.

The exhibition will exhibit 27 works, of which 20 are new. Su Xiaobai’s distinctive style eliminates recognisable subject matter and imagery, focusing attention on the paintings’ own intrinsic nature and the idea of being itself. Ranging from exquisitely rendered, shell-like finishes to sensuous, curved profiles and abraded textures, the works exist entirely on their own terms, possessing their own history, character and independent existence.

Su Xiaobai is regarded as one of China’s foremost contemporary artists, whose work bridges cultural barriers and notions of art historical expression.

The development of Su Xiaobai’s work is strongly associated with a return to China after he studied at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, where his work was deeply influenced by notions of modernism and the Western traditions of abstraction.

After years spent shedding the figurative associations of Socialist Realism inherited from the Cultural Revolution, Su’s break into pure abstraction and his discovery of lacquer—a material traditionally associated with traditional Chinese craft—has been read as deeply nationalistic.

Imbuing these traditional materials with modernist notions of colour theory learnt in Germany, Su’s work simultaneously recalls the work of Mark Rothko and lacquered Chinese furniture, in a dialogue between East and West.

Stripped of figurative representation, Su Xiaobai’s practice allows the colour and texture of the materials to sing. Chemical and physical processes mixing lacquer with water, oil, powder and pigment encourages unpredictable forms and markings to appear on the surface, with minute cracks and pitting taking the viewer’s attention as the colour beneath appears to develop and breathe.

In the repetitive motion of painting layers of lacquer and oil paint onto linen or wood, Su also refers to the processes involved in ink painting—another process steeped in historical and cultural associations of China. Recalling inherited cultural histories, lacquer painting harks back to the romanticism of handmade objects where the work of the craftsman is visible.

Following Su Xiaobai’s solo exhibition The Dynasty of Colours at Langen Foundation, Germany, in 2010, he was recently celebrated with a major exhibition showcasing his work from 2006–2013, GRAND IMMENSITY—The Art of Xiaobai Su, at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan. His work will also be on show in the UK at Art14 London at Pearl Lam Galleries’ stand from 28 February–4 March 2014.

Pearl Lam, Founder, said, ‘Su Xiaobai’s work consistently crosses barriers between the abstract and physical, drawing detail from colours and texture, and creating a unique dialogue between contrasting artistic practices.’

About Su Xiaobai

Su was born in 1949 in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei province. In 1965, he joined the School of Art and Crafts in Wuhan, and from 1985 he studied oil painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. Throughout that time his work inclined towards social realism. After receiving an Arts and Culture scholarship in 1987, he attended the Düsseldorf Art Academy. First-hand experience of avant-garde Western art radically affected his outlook. During the 1990s his work became progressively less figurative, and following his return to China in 2003 it has increasingly focused on essential characteristics of colour, shape and surface. These elements alone underpin the creation of paintings whose self-contained presence is both affective and mysterious.

About Paul Moorhouse

Paul Moorhouse has been Curator of 20th Century at the National Portrait Gallery, London since 2005. He began his career as a curator at the Government Art Collection in London before joining Collections at Tate, and later Contemporary Art. He is a specialist in international 20th century art and has organised numerous exhibitions, including: The Queen: Art and Image (2011–12), Gerhard Richter Portraits (2009) and Pop Art Portraits (2007–8) at the National Portrait Gallery. He has published extensively. Recent publications include Anthony Caro: Presence (2010), Gerhard Richter—Painting Appearances (2009), Pop Art Portraits (2007), Interpreting Caro (2005), as well as numerous exhibition catalogues, among which recent titles include Tony Bevan Self-Portraits (2011), Bridget Riley—From Life (2010), and Frank Auerbach: London Building Sites 1952–1962 (Courtauld Institute 2009). His monograph, Cindy Sherman, will be published this year. Moorhouse is currently organising a major exhibition, Giacometti—Pure Presence, to be held at the National Portrait Gallery, London in 2015.

About Pearl Lam Galleries

Founded by Pearl Lam, Pearl Lam Galleries is a driving force within Asia’s contemporary art scene. With over 20 years of experience exhibiting Asian and Western art and design, it is one of the leading and most established contemporary art galleries to be launched out of China. Playing a vital role in stimulating international dialogue on Chinese and Asian contemporary art, the Galleries is dedicated to championing artists who re-evaluate and challenge perceptions of cultural practice from the region. The Galleries in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore collaborate with renowned curators, each presenting distinct programming from major solo exhibitions, special projects and installations to conceptually rigorous group shows. Based on the philosophy of Chinese Literati where art forms have no hierarchy, the Galleries are dedicated to breaking down boundaries between different disciplines, with a unique gallery model committed to encouraging cross-cultural exchange.

Contemporary Chinese Abstract art is heavily represented in the Galleries roster. Influential Chinese artists Zhu Jinshi and Su Xiaobai who synthesise Chinese sensibilities with an international visual language are presented internationally with work now included in major private and public collections worldwide. The Galleries have also introduced leading international artists such as Jenny Holzer, Jim Lambie and Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA) to markets in the region, providing opportunities for new audiences in Asia to encounter their work. Pearl Lam Galleries encourages international artists to create new work which engages specifically with the region— collaborating to produce thought-provoking and culturally relevant work.

Pearl Lam Design shows works by established and emerging international designers, including Maarten Baas; Mattia Bonetti; André Dubreuil; and Studio Makkink & Bey, in exhibitions and design fairs around the world. They are invited to push the boundaries of traditional Chinese art and craft techniques and create new works that reflect their experiences in China. A fourth gallery and concept store devoted solely to design will open shortly in Shanghai.