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Shanghai Tang Mansion
2013.09.09 Mon - 2013.11.12 Tue
Opening Exhibition
09/09/2013 16:00
1 Duddell Street, Central 香港中环都爹利街1号
+852 2525 7333
Opening Hours
Mon to Sun 10.30am - 8.00pm (including public holidays)

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Evidence — a Solo Show by Ma Ke
[Press Release]

[Press Release]

Evidence – a solo show by Ma Ke Date: 2013-9-7 – 2013-11-9
Duddell’s, 4/F, The Library, Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell Street, Central

Characterized by vigorous brushstrokes and layer upon layer of paint, sometimes dense, other times more watery, Ma Ke’s work stems from the belief that “Painting is evidence of existence as well as evidence of time” (Ma Ke, August 1st, 2013).

Initially trained as a painter at the Tianjin Art Academy, China, Ma Ke was invited back as teacher after a brilliant debut. During his time teaching, he spent a year in Eritrea, Africa as a voluntary teacher on a Chinese aid program between 1998-1999. The experience of living and working an environment so different to his own had a great impact on his practice and inevitably influenced his perception of space, the world around him, and his use of intense vibrant pigments, which really set him apart from his Chinese contemporaries.

Unlike other artists, Ma Ke does not work from initial sketches, but takes his starting point directly on canvas, upon which a journey of exploration and transformation unfolds over time before reaching completion. The different stages in this journey become evident in lighter works where glimpses of previous drawings are visible, whereas they disappear almost entirely in his denser works. Ma Ke’s artworks represent a mood, more than a motif. Every layer is one step closer to exploring of the potential and essence of painting.

Critic and curator Karen Smith explains, “We might even describe Ma Ke as China’s first truly Modernist painter. Although in terms of content and narratives Ma Ke’s style is very much of the moment, in terms of painterly concerns, he paints in the sense that pre-WWII painters in Europe approached the challenges of capturing a changing and troubled world on canvas, and of how they struggled with the language of painting in attempts to break free from the linear trajectory of art history, which appeared to be approaching its end following the total abstraction of the Constructivists, of Kandinsky, Klee and the rise of Duchamp.” (Karen Smith, “Life Most Intense”, 2012)

Driven by instinctive and powerful emotions in his practice, Ma Ke’s paintings seek to seize moments of intensity, and express a synthesis of this inner world, which he himself is unable to describe the extent of in words. “In attempting to describe my work, I’ve come to understand that words can be weak, and do not actually add anything to the painting. Words fall short to describe it.”  Needless to say, the utmost essence of an artwork is the artwork itself.

During initial discussions around the show, Ma Ke confided that he stood at a crossroads in his career, moved by an inexplicable force towards a new creative realm. “These new works mark a new beginning for me. After having painted for so long I have achieved a certain inner strength. This strength has given me more freedom and dedication in developing my paintings further”.

The works selected for this show illustrate the evolution in Ma Ke’s ideas whilst simultaneously setting in dialogue different aspects of human existence. A policeman embodies a metaphor for power and control, a man standing on a skull hints at humanity and history, whilst a scream coming from a roaring open mouth seems to materialize on the canvas, all come together to express the potential and essence of painting.

This new series of works takes visitors on a journey of discovery across the canvas. Figures and landscapes portrayed and the rational intention that engendered them become secondary, giving place to an expression of courage and the power achieved through the absence of limits.

“Evidence”, Ma Ke’s first solo show in Hong Kong, is the materialization of Ma Ke’s profound élan, of his spirit and mind as well as of the most intense peripheries of human existence.

The show is part of a larger project titled “Jungle II” developing over the course of one year at Platform China Beijing and Hong Kong. “Jungle II” seeks to redefine, investigate, and document process of creating art and invent a new methodology of exhibiting, through a number of exhibitions and events including round-table discussions and screenings, which will be all documented as an archive.