Ma Ke Play with Historical References

Chinese artist Ma Ke (b. 1970) uses his paintings as a space in which to compresses his imaginative energy. In his work, fragments build upon one another like a song with layered notes, made by placing sound upon sound. “I paint by covering, or, to be more concise, altering previous images. I accumulate energy by constantly breaking old habits or by challenging my own thinking. To me, the artist’s character is based upon the energy they secure from the present moment,” he explains.

In his most recent paintings, currently on view in Ma Ke at N3 Contemporary Art in Beijing, his subject matter remains centered—as it has been for along time—on the human body “It thus seems that Ma, the painter, encourages the viewer to consider and to interpret freely, not only his works but also the poem, the history, and even the wider cultural background in which the literature was produced,”

Other images picture solitary women, almost Cubistic inform, combing their hair. These works bring to mind Picasso’s Woman Plaiting Her Hair. (see picture)

Ma has said that he is not as concerned with the correct formal analysis of his paintings as he is with the practice that brings the works into being. In these new works, he continues to give viewers that playful space for projecting their own narratives.

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