Born 1971, Nanyang, Henan
As inspiration for his new series of monumental oil paintings, Xu Songbo drew from his earliest childhood memories of studying Tang Dynasty poetry and history. Considered one of the most open and embracing periods in Chinese history, the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) represented a golden age of cosmopolitan culture and a high point of Chinese civilization – an era full of poetry and fantasy. Xu’s long-held admiration for the Tang has led him to intensively research its history, as well as many of its artefacts. His aim is to use the paintbrush to recount the stories of the great Tang Dynasty’s many characters and spirits.
According to Xu, in order to truly understand the spirit and culture of the Tang, one must experience the lifestyle of the era, which is why he took up the practice of archery, eventually participating in various archery competitions and perfecting his skills as a horseman. These experiences were crucial to the creation of his artwork, allowing him to engage in a “dialogue” with the Tang Dynasty through time and space.
In his new series, Xu revisits the Tang dynasty’s love of the horse, creating a number of majestic “horse paintings” as an extension of the original "Tang Style" series. Just like a movie sequel, these paintings draw from the previous but tell a unique story of their own, resulting in compositions that are more mature and refined, reflecting a deeper understanding of the artist’s personal style.
Using both Eastern and Western materials, tools, techniques, and language, the artist starts his work with very precise sketches and then adds thin layers of transparent oil mixed with opaque oil paint colours to build texture. Xu’s paintings recall the form and colours of European Renaissance masterpieces while bringing to life the grandeur of China’s golden age of literature and art.
Xu Songbo received a BA from the Fine Arts Department of Henan University in 1993. He later received an MA from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts. In 2005 as an Associate Professor, Xu taught painting in art and media, video painting, integrated art and other professional subjects at the Comprehensive Painting Department of the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts. Currently, he is a Vice Professor at the same institution.
Xu’s published writings, Through Time and Space - Xu Songbo Album and Net Community, are dedicated to the discussion and expression of the spirit of traditional culture in the modern context. The artist lives and works in Beijing and Tianjin.
* Xu Songbo’s new “Tang Horse” series will be the artist’s second solo exhibition at Fabrik Gallery in Hong Kong.