Su Xiaobai is one of China’s foremost contemporary artists, 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. Born in 1949 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, Su joined the School of Arts and Crafts in Wuhan in 1965. From 1985 to 1987, he studied oil painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and in 1987, he moved to Germany to pursue his postgraduate studies at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (Düsseldorf State Arts Academy), returning to China in 2003.
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, Su began to focus on the essential characteristics of color, shape, and surface. Lacquer—a centuries-old material and technique synonymous with East Asian culture—became his primary medium, a material that along with oil he applied to non-traditional supports such as sackcloth, clay, vines, and reclaimed wood. 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 blurs the space between painting and object.
Su Xiaobai lives and works between Shanghai, China, and Düsseldorf, Germany. His work has been the subject of international solo and group exhibitions including And There’s Nothing I Can Do, 2018 at the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, Kobe City, Japan; Infinite Blue, 2017 at the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Jing Shen: The Act of Painting in Contemporary China, 2015 at PAC Milan Museum of Contemporary Art, Italy; Grand Immensity－The Art of Xiaobai Su, 2013 at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan; The Dynasty of Colours, 2010 at the Langen Foundation, Neuss, Germany; Kao Gong Ji — Xiaobai Su, 2008 at the Today Art Museum, Beijing, China; and Intangible Greats, 2007 at the Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China amongst others.