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SU XIAOBAI
(Chinese, B. 1949)
Precipitating Azure
signed 'Xiaobai' in Pinyin (lower left); titled, dated and signed in Chinese; inscribed '121 x 152 cm.'; signed 'Xiaobai' in Pinyin (on the reverse)
oil, Chinese lacquer, linen, wooden panel
121 x 152 cm. (47 5/8 x 59 7/8 in.)
Painted in 2007
Provenance
Private Collection, Asia
Literature
Shanghai Museum of Art, Su Xiaobai, Shanghai, China, 2007 (illustrated, p. 124).

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Felix Yip
Felix Yip

Lot Essay

"I cared about the possibility of painting process having an existence in and of itself. I care about the visual impact created from a painting surface. A painting, is merely presenting to us its thin skin surface, every interpretation is then derived from this skin. My mission is to thoroughly perfect this thin piece of skin."
-Su Xiaobai
Su Xiaobao lived in Germany for over 20 years. Since 2002, he started innovatively using materials such as oil paint, house paint, linen and wood panels as materials in his works. He would let the paint, diluted with turpentine, run freely over the surface of the linen-pasted wood panels. The characteristic quality and texture of paint became the unique abstract visual language within his works, constructing a multi-layered dimension within the monochromic tone. In Precipitating Azure (Lot 2153), the red background surrounded the patch of cobalt blue. In a glance, it seems to depict a state of suspension. However, as the viewer moves closer to the surface, the delicate texture and saturated colours of the paint gradually extend our visual experience. The thick paint flows and accumulates to form subtle patch-marks over the painted surface. Through this unique characteristic of the media and technique, Su Xiaobao seems to imply the passage of time. As the patch of blue sinks to the bottom of the painting, it also immerses into the red background, leading the audience into the multi-dimensional space composed by the artist. At the same time, the textural patterns sculpted by the linen break apart the boundaries established by the colours. The scattered rectangular patches generate a sense of movement within the stable horizontal composition. The solid blocks and the tonal changes they generate create a sense of mass and volume; this elevates the two-dimensionality of the works into that of a three dimensional space. Su Xiaobai maneuvers his use of colour, shadow and form through a "literal depiction of abstraction", expanding the boundaries of abstract aesthetics.

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