Throughout the COVID-19 shutdown, Su Xiaobai has been working from his studio in Shanghai. Despite the changes happening all around us, he reflects on how his studio practice has remained the same, “Every day this year since the outbreak of the disease, from February to June, almost every day, I walk into my studio as usual, meditate and walk around in the studio. I have to tell you that I found that the rhythm of my work and creation has not changed because of the existence of the disease.”
Su Xiaobai’s meditative process involves mixing colors and applying them layer by layer. 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. “I let the color change the texture of the picture during the drying process, rather than directly drawing these changes with the brush.” These thick layers of vibrantly colored lacquer create a balanced composition, whilst simultaneously integrating the artist’s own unique take on his cultural heritage.