(b. 1952, China)
Lives and works in Paris, France
Ma Desheng was born in Beijing in 1952 and rose to prominence as an artist and founding member of the Stars Group in China in the late 1970s. Ma was crippled as a child and deemed “unfit” by Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts to be formally trained. Therefore instead, Ma took it upon himself and self-trained as an artist, first working in woodblock, creating expressive, monochrome prints, then later experimenting in Chinese ink and brush techniques. His portrayals of peasants and the working class, and his use of stones as a motif, was viewed as rare and scandalous amidst a time of propaganda and socialist art in China under the Communist Party rule.
In 1979, at the age of 26, Ma and some twenty-odd artists founded Stars Group, advocating freedom of thought and freedom of creation. The group organized two public exhibitions, both of which were fast to be quashed by the authorities. Ma’s woodblock prints from this early period of his artistic career served as a statement to the central spirit of the Stars Group.
Ma relocated to Europe in 1985, arriving first in Switzerland and eventually settling down in Paris where he still lives and works. Following a car accident in 1992 that left Ma being wheelchair bound, the artist began painting in acrylics, expressing himself through modes of abstraction using the stone motifs of his earlier works.
Ma has exhibited widely in group and solo exhibitions around the world throughout his extensive career. Recent notable exhibitions include “M+ Sigg Collection: Four Decades of Chiense Contemporary Art” in 2016 in Hong Kong; “Voice of the Unseen – Chinese Independent Art Since 1979” as part of the Arenale organized by the Guangdong Museum of Art in Venice in 2013; and in 2011, “Chinese Artists in Paris 1920-1958: from Lin Fengmian to Zao Wou-Ki” at the Musé Cernuschi in Paris and “Blooming in the Shadows: Unofficial Chinese Art, 1974-1985” New York’s China Institute.
His works are held in major private and public collections including the Musé d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France; the Fukuoaka City Museum, Japan; the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK; the Musée d’Historie Contemporaine, Paris, France; and the University Museum and Art Gallery, Hong Kong, among others.