Painter, engraver, calligrapher, performer, poet … Ma Desheng is above all a free man and an artist whose work reflects a furious desire to live. He is one of the founding members of the Xingxing group (“Les Etoiles”), the first post-Maoist dissident artistic movement in China, which he left definitively in 1985 before settling a year later in Paris.
The female body has always been a recurring theme in Ma Desheng’s work, from her beginnings through traditional techniques such as calligraphy, to felt pen on paper during her convalescence, to large formats in acrylic. Symbols of peace and beauty for Ma Desheng, her feminine silhouettes illustrate a carnal need to represent the life that the artist makes dancing on the canvas in complete freedom.
Born in Beijing in 1952, Ma Desheng is one of the first contemporary Chinese artists who anticipate the reform and opening movement initiated by Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s. Suffering from a very serious illness, he is forced to crutches, which did not limit his productivity and creativity. Self-taught, starting as an industrial designer and then as an engraver, he quickly came into contact with other internationally renowned Chinese artists such as Ai Weiwei or Wang Keping. In 1979, Ma Desheng founded with these, and others like Huang Rui or Li Shuang, the group Les Etoiles (Xingxing), the first avant-garde artistic movement in China. After difficult times, the end of the Cultural Revolution and the Maoist period imposing socialist realism, the work of the group of Stars and Ma Desheng appears as a true renaissance.
Ma Desheng participates in the revival of Chinese painting by giving a central place to the human body, where the landscape dominated ancestral way. Paradoxically, it is when he leaves China in 1985 to settle in France a year later, that he will give a real boost to his painting. Between abstraction and figuration, her feminine silhouettes become the real subject of the painting, distant memories of our “Venus” prehistoric callipyges. They invade the canvas, decomposed in the spirit of a Henry Moore, taken for some of the frenzy of matissian dances.
His works are held in public and private collections around the world, including The British Museum, London, Museum Cernuschi, Paris, Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris, the Association of Contemporary Art Museum of Chamalières, France, Museum of Oxford, London, Melun Museum, France, Asian Art Museum, Nice, Museum and Art Gallery, University of Hong Kong.