Gallery: Axel Vervoordt Gallery
Artist(s): Ryuji Tanaka
Opening / Event Date: 19 Oct, 2019
Closing / End Date: 1 Feb, 2020
On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the famed 1979 Stars Exhibition, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery is proud to present celebrated French-Chinese artist Ma Desheng (b. 1952) during this year’s Le French May in Hong Kong.
Ma Desheng is one of the most captivating artists from China. The gallery presents a series of his iconic stone paintings as well as early ink work paintings and wood block prints. Ma who walked with crutches, was refused admission to art school on account of his disability and worked as an industrial draughtsman and woodblock print artist before beginning to paint with traditional Chinese ink. Ma’s early Stars Period (星星) woodblock prints of 1979-1981 publicly confronted and challenged the system. Ma says, “We wanted to express democracy and freedom. And even beauty. At the time, beauty was not fashionable.” After leaving China for Europe, Ma continued to work in ink treading the realms of both painting and calligraphy. Ma moved to the US where he was tragically involved in a car accident paralyzing him from the waist down. After moving back to France he began to paint with acrylic on canvas. Working from his wheelchair, Ma began using brush extensions to paint his monumental canvases. In this exhibition we explore Ma’s stone painting series. Guimet museum curator, Jean-Paul Desroches has written, “Since 2002, great stones with polished countours spring up from the rough backgrounds of violent contrasts, structured like the works of Brancusi, volcanic like those of Matisse, but as existential as Morandi’s still lifes. He stacks up the stones to form his figures abolishing the boundaries between sculpture and painting. His stone beings are both fragile and robust, solidly planted, yet their balance is fleeting. Not in the least insensitive, they are able to express the most diverse feelings. The centre of each stone being slumbers a volcano of tar and snow, a magma where uncontrolled energies confront each other.”
Ma Desheng is collected by the M+ Museum, Hong Kong; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; The British Museum, London; Museum Cernuschi, Paris; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; l’Association du Museum d’Art Contemporaine de Chamalières, France; Museum of Oxford, Oxford; Museum de Melun, France, Asian Art Museum, Nice; The University of Hong Kong Museum, amoung others. Ma Desheng is a published and celebrated poet.
The Stars Exhibition 1979, A Turning Point for Art in China
On the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, an art exhibition took place on September 27, 1979 when a group of avant-garde and non-academy trained Chinese artists staged an unpermitted exhibition on the railings of the National Art Museum of China. The group is called The Stars (Xing Xing 星星), named because they saw themselves as points of light in the endless black. Some of the Stars’ works of art were explicitly political. However, most of the works in the Stars exhibitions were non-political and distinguished themselves from official art rather by their choice of style and subject matter. Using banned Western styles or individual artistic expression challenged both aesthetic convention and political authority. Thousands of people attended the exhibition. It was closed by the police after just two days. When the works were removed, a mass rally ensued. After discussions, the group was granted a space to show: The Stars Art Exhibition (星星美展), at Beihai Park, Beijing. The exhibition included 163 works by 23 nonprofessional artists. The Stars Art exhibition was a turning point for art in China. The following year, the Stars were invited to exhibit at the National Art Museum of China in the second Stars Exhibition.