"I hope that every painting is a new beginning and brings a wonderful new experience. I no longer rely on descriptions of nature, and I don't restrict myself to the natural world, but focus on creating the painting. And I use every means possible, to the greatest degree, to pursue smoothness, simplicity, and explicitness in the painting, as I pursue subtle changes of colors, pure beauty, and drama."
- Su Xiaobai
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Su Xiaobai studied at the Düsseldorf Academy of Fine Arts in Germany under such teachers as Gerard Richter. His work during this period shows him striving to peel away the binding layers of figurative concepts to reach the essence of abstraction.
Red Note II (Lot 448), as a representative series of works from Su, shows his bold mixture of the lacquer in traditional Chinese craft with oils, while replacing canvas with linen and wooden panels as a vehicle, to produce his uniquely rich texture of the surface. Lacquer, one of the ancient craft materials of China, often employs combination of pink and black, and typically requires scores or even hundreds of applications; for this reason, the finished product carries a physical memory of the passage of time. Su Xiaobai's abstract paintings combine the fine, glossy resins of lacquer with the rougher texture of linen or the stubborn hardness of wood, revealing both the opposite characteristics and the harmony between his materials to create a wonderful tension within the work as a whole. His works possess tremendous energy and spirituality, like the monochromatic color fields of Mark Rothko, as well as the lyrical odes to physical materials seen in the epic works of Robert Motherwell. These, along with the intensely Eastern elements of Su's art, have helped him forge a unique path in the world of abstraction.