ArtXchange Gallery is proud to present quieter days, by painter and poet Alan Lau. Showcasing a master artist’s reflections on solitude and remembrance, this new series of abstract paintings on paper weaves ink, paint, and pastel into layered, rhythmic patterns. Like a jazz musician, Lau’s compositions are often impromptu dances with a brush. These elegant abstractions are both macrocosms and microcosms, skillfully weaving a poetic web of connections between his own life, the ever-evolving Seattle community, and the larger world.
Lau’s style is rooted in the Chinese Literati tradition and Northwest modernism. The Chinese calligraphy he learned from his grandmother as a child and the patterned abstractions he did in art school in the 1960s inform his work, as does the traditional brush and sumi-e painting he studied during the 1970s at the Nanga School in Kyoto, Japan with mentor Nirakushi Toriumi. Lau’s work is rooted in traditions yet fused with contemporary style and free in his own interpretations. As Lau has written, “The spirit of the tradition looms behind me not as a role model but as a continuing renewable source of encouragement to push ahead.”
In quieter days, Lau reflects on his recent years – time spent walking through a gentrifying neighborhood to his small Ballard studio, solitude as his wife cared for family members in Japan, and the glimpses of memory that surface during these times alone. The title of each piece gives the viewer hints into Lau’s state of mind – evocative phrases that range from melancholy to whimsical. Lau often says his art “is not for people who like precision.” He creates mystery and depth, as if looking into a pool of water that shifts and shimmers beyond what the eye can see.
Alan Lau has enjoyed an extensive career that defies quick summary. He is a painter, poet, journalist, and creative organizer who has been a key figure in Seattle’s Asian-American cultural scene for decades. His visual artwork has been exhibited since the 1970s at numerous venues including Francine Seders Gallery, ArtXchange Gallery, and an extensive list of regional and international museums and collections. In 2014, he was awarded the Mayor's Arts Award by the City of Seattle and was the recipient of a major award by the Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation in 2015.
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