Ma Desheng

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Born in 1952 in Beijing, Ma Desheng was deemed ‘unfit’ by the Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts to be formally trained as an artist. So instead, he self-trained as a woodblock craftsman, producing highly expressive monochrome prints, and began working on his own with the traditional Chinese medium of ink and brush. His depictions of stones and, especially, his unromanticised portrayal of the working class and peasants offered a shocking and rare counter to the propaganda imagery offered at the time by the Chinese Communist Party.

Ma rose to prominence in the late 1970s as one of the founding members of the Stars Group, which organised two public exhibitions that were both quickly quashed by authorities. After being arrested for his role in arranging the group’s first show as well as a subsequent crackdown on ‘liberal thinkers’, the artist relocated to Europe in the 1980s. Following serious physical injuries incurred in a car accident in 1992, Ma was forced to begin working in a different medium; this time, with acrylic paint, creating large and bold pieces that continued to reflect the stone motifs touched upon in some of his earlier woodblock prints and ink paintings.

His works are held in public and private collections around the world, including the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK; the British Museum, London, UK; Fundação Oriente, Macau, China; the Fukuoka City Museum, Japan; Musée de Melun, France; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France; Musée d’Histoire Contemporaine, Paris, France; and the University Museum and Art Gallery, University of Hong Kong. Ma now lives and works in Paris.

  • Ma Desheng
    Rocks 1
    2012
    Acrylic on canvas
    150 x 200 cm (59 x 78 ¾ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Rock 2
    2011
    Acrylic on canvas
    162 x 130 cm (63 ¾ x 51 ¼ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Rock 3
    2010
    Acrylic on canvas
    162 x 130 cm (63 ¾ x 51 ¼ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Rock 4
    2007
    Acrylic on canvas
    140 x 200 cm (55 ¼ x 78 ¾ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Rock 5
    2007
    Acrylic on canvas
    150 x 200 cm (59 x 78 ¾ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Rock 6
    2010
    Acrylic on canvas
    150 x 200 cm (59 x 78 ¾ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Rock 7
    2012
    Acrylic on canvas
    150 x 200 cm (59 x 78 ¾ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Rock 8
    2012
    Acrylic on canvas
    150 x 200 cm (59 x 78 ¾ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Nude 1
    2013
    Acrylic on canvas
    162 x 130 cm (63 ¾ x 51 ¼ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Nude 2
    2013
    Acrylic on canvas
    162 x 130 cm (63 ¾ x 51 ¼ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Nude 3
    2012
    Acrylic on canvas
    180 x 200 cm (70 ¾ x 78 ¾ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Nude 4
    2012
    Acrylic on canvas
    180 x 200 cm (70 ¾ x 78 ¾ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Rocks 9
    2012
    Acrylic on canvas
    200 x 180 cm (78 ¾ x 70 ¾ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Rocks 10
    2012
    Acrylic on canvas
    150 x 200 cm (59 x 78 ¾ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Ink Nude 1
    1987
    Ink on Chinese paper
    94 x 68.5 cm (37 x 27 in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Ink Nude 2
    1987
    Ink on Chinese paper
    94 x 68.5 cm (37 x 27 in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Ink Nude 3
    1987
    Ink on Chinese paper
    130 x 68.5 cm (51 x 27 in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Ink Nude 4
    1987
    Ink on Chinese paper
    68 x 127 cm (26 ¾ x 50 in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Abstract 1
    1987
    Ink on Chinese paper
    69 x 102 cm (27 x 40 in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Abstract 2
    1987
    Ink on Chinese paper
    69 x 136 cm (27 x 53 ½ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Abstract 3
    1987
    Ink on Chinese paper
    152 x 84 cm (60 x 33 in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Abstract 4
    1987
    Ink on Chinese paper
    84 x 152 cm (33 x 60 in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled 1
    1979
    Woodblock print on Chinese paper
    22.8 x 22.4 cm (9 x 8 ¾ in) Paper size: 69.2 x 56.8 cm (27 ¼ x 23 in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled 2
    1979
    Woodblock print on Chinese paper
    20.2 x 26.5 cm (8 x 10 ½ in) Paper size: 69.2 x 56.8 cm (27 ¼ x 23 in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled 3
    1980
    Woodblock print on Chinese paper
    35.4 x 34.9 cm (14 x 13 ½ in) Paper size: 69.7 x 60.3 cm (27 ½ x 23 ¾ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled 4
    1979
    Woodblock print on Chinese paper
    49.5 x 26.3 cm (19 ½ x 10 ¼ in) Paper size: 70.2 x 64 cm (27 ¾ x 25 ¼ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled 5
    1980
    Woodblock print on Chinese paper
    53.7 x 29.4 cm (21 x 11 ½ in) Paper size: 70 x 64.2 cm (27 ½ x 25 ¼ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled 6
    1981
    Woodblock print on Chinese paper
    30.3 x 44.9 cm (12 x 17 ¾ in) Paper size: 70 x 64 cm (27 ½ x 25 ¼ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled 7
    1980
    Woodblock print on Chinese paper
    20.8 x 52.2 cm (8 ¼ x 20 ½ in) Paper size: 69.2 x 70 cm (23 ¼ x 27 ½ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled 8
    1980
    Woodblock print on Chinese paper
    46.4 x 34.4 cm (18 ¼ x 13 ½ in) Paper size: 70 x 61.2 cm (27 ½ x 24 in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled 9
    1981
    Woodblock print on Chinese paper
    23 x 51.2 cm (9 x 20 ¼ in) Paper size: 67.1 x 70 cm (26 ½ x 27 ½ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled 10
    1981
    Woodblock print on Chinese paper
    34.4 x 52 cm (13 ½ x 20 ½ in) Paper size: 66.4 x 70 cm (26 ¼ x 27 ½ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled 11
    1980
    Woodblock print on Chinese paper
    25.9 x 35.1 cm (10 ¼ x 13 ¾ in) Paper size: 60.5 x 69.2 cm (23 ¾ x 27 ¼ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled 12
    1980
    Woodblock print on Chinese paper
    45.4 x 27 cm (18 x 10 ¾ in) Paper size: 70 x 72.7 cm (27 ½ x 28 ½ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled 13
    1979
    Woodblock print on Chinese paper
    37 x 30.1 cm (14 ½ x 12 in) Paper size: 69.2 x 57.5 cm (27 ¼ x 22 ¾ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled 14
    1981
    Woodblock print on Chinese paper
    28.2 x 28.7 cm (11 x 11 ¼ in) Paper size: 70 x 70.4 cm (27 ½ x 27 ¾ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled 15
    1980
    Woodblock print on Chinese paper
    24.1 x 35 cm (9 ½ x 13 ¾ in) Paper size: 66.7 x 70 cm (26 ¼ x 27 ½ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled 16
    1980
    Woodblock print on Chinese paper
    19.2 x 40.3 cm (7 ½ x 16 in) Paper size: 65.7 x 70 (25 ¾ x 27 ½ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled 17
    1981
    Woodblock print on Chinese paper
    24.4 x 31.8 cm (9 ¾ x 12 ½ in) Paper size: 70 x 66 cm (27 ½ x 26 in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled 18
    1979
    Woodblock print on Chinese paper
    10.9 x 30.8 cm (4 ¼ x 12 ¼ in) Paper size: 70 x 67.9 cm (27 ½ x 26 ¾ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled 19
    1980
    Woodblock print on Chinese paper
    19.9 x 13.9 cm (7 ¾ x 5 ½ in) Paper size: 70 x 63.6 cm (27 ½ x 25 in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled 20
    1980
    Woodblock print on Chinese paper
    44.9 x 33.6 cm (17 ¾ x 13 ¼ in) Paper size: 69.2 x 57.6 cm (27 ¼ x 22 ¾ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled
    1986
    Ink on Chinese paper
    68 x 137 cm (26 ¾ x 54 in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled
    1986
    Ink on Chinese paper
    69 x 92 cm (17 x 36 ¼ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled
    1987
    Ink on Chinese paper
    69 x 85 cm (27 x 33 ½ in)
  • Ma Desheng
    Untitled
    1987
    Ink on Chinese paper
    69 x 90 cm (27 x 35 ½ in)
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