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Ma Lu

Portrait of Ma Lu

Speaking of art, if one is able to study steadfastly the visual rules, he or she won’t become a slave of the market or a political tool. In the final analysis, the visual rule is the perception of rules for people, at least, people will have the same feeling with the visual harmony and contrast, etc., so whatever style of work, it will properly use and allocate visual factors to deal with the relationship between them. I always think about these common standards or requirements for the art are not only visual, but also similar to the moral isomorphism, maybe it can have some inspiration beyond the limitations. It is perhaps the reason why artists hardly cooperate with the market and politics after all, it is the unique law of art. “Beauty” is closely related to the “true” and the “kind”, instead of at the level of phenomenon.

Excerpts from Ma Lu: The “Tao” and “Morality” of Art

The two metaphorical examples can roughly be summed up as the spiritual direction of Ma Lu’s oil painting and its characteristics–good at drawing planes, Ma Lu loves sleeping and dreaming at the same time, the plane passes through his mind and his subconscious world. In the era of the mottled material and spiritual reality, he uses a normal and rational manner to present to people a place that is in the perceived world with a spiritual background and humanistic vision in the process of social development, referring to the change of the world and mind to create a spiritual world rich in implications. He uses art to replace thinking, using the form of art to inspect the evolution of the world and mind as well as the spiritual shock.

Excerpts from Zhang Jie: Ma Lu - Journey to the Dream and Spirit

The recent works by Ma Lu combine black humor and social criticism, to create an almost weird art style. The plane is the protagonist in the works of Ma Lu, but the plane is no longer a mechanical device, instead it becomes a seemingly living animal, both look like a flying bird and a swimming fish. Birds and fish remind us of the traditional Chinese flower-and-bird painting, where flowers, birds, insects and fish show us a natural world full of natural appeal. While the plane reminds us of the Futurism in the early 20th century, where automobiles are considered more beautiful than a goddess. Ma Lu’s art does not belong to any of them. He uses a unique imagination to combine the both, to create a surreal art world for us. This is both a mental world, and a world of science fiction. What direction does the thick airplane point to for human beings? Different people have different answers. Optimists see hope, while pessimists see despair. If we consider Ma Lu’s paintings as Chinese flower-and-bird paintings, we perhaps can find fun.

Excerpts from the “Culture After Culture - Exhibition for 12 Artists of Contemporary Painting” by Peng Feng, 2009

Our painting has been praised, hated, ridiculed, marketed, secularized. The so-called perfection of art is understood as the extreme, which will destroy the art. All energetic things are not so simple, conceptual. Perfection has a scale that is neither short nor long. Perfection has a standard, which is detailed and clear, distant from ordinary people, and constantly deepened. It is not the end of perfection, which has always been made accurate, unless you give it up. The means of painting is limited, so the control of “scale” is particularly important, limit is one of the most important methods to generate a new vision.

Excerpts from Ma Lu: How Tangled Is It.

About the Artist

Ma Lu graduated from the Department of Oil Painting, CAFA in 1982, and graduated from the Department of Liberal Arts, Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg, Germany. Currently he is a professor and teaches in the Department of Oil Painting, CAFA, Dean of the School of Plastic Arts. He was one of the candidates of Wu Zuoren Art Award - Plastic Arts Prize in 2006, selected to Support the Planning of Excellent Talent in the New Century by the Ministry of Education in 2008, he won the Better Life Cup Chinese Art Contribution Prize at the 2010 World Aesthetic Conference.


“Ma Lu On the Other Side”, M - Art Space, 2012

“Ma Lu 2010”, Yuan Art Museum, 2010

“CAFA Teaching Materials - Oil Painting Teaching - the 4th Studio”, Peking University Press, 2007

Ma Lu 2006, Lingnan Fine Arts Publishing House, 2006

“The Road of Innovation - the Western Modern Painting”, Lingnan Fine Arts Publishing House, 2003

“The Sketch Manual of Contemporary Artists -Ma Lu”, the Hebei Education Publishing House, 2000

“Artist Talks About the Master Rouault”, Lingnan Fine Arts Publishing House, 1999

“The African National Costumes”, Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House, 1998

“The Chinese Contemporary Artists - Ma Lu”, Guangxi Fine Arts Publishing House, 1996

“Drawing Techniques of the Masters of the World - Kollwitz”, the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles Publishing Company, 1992

“Drawing Techniques of the Masters of the World - Seurat”, the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles Publishing Company

Selected Exhibitions

2014 Perception of China, Headquarter of UNESCO in Paris / Beijing Dadu Art Museum

2014 Ode, Shanghai M - Art Space

2013 Fantastic Ink and Color, Exhibition of Selected Works of Chinese Painting and Oil Painting, Venetian Gold Convention and Exhibition Center

2013 Colorful China, Milido Art Institution, Beijing, China

2013 1978 – First Session of the Department of Oil Painting Launched an Exhibition to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Graduation, CAFA Art Museum

2012 Chinese Oil Painting Art Exhibition, Olympia Exhibition Hall in London, UK

2012 Starting from the Modern, National Art Museum of China

2012 Chinese Oil Painting Art Exhibition, National Art Museum of China

2012 Ma Lu On the Other Side, Shanghai M - Art Space

2011 First Exhibition of the “Paintings Handed Down in a Family” Series, Chinese People Art Museum in Xiamen

2010 Spirit and History - National Touring Exhibition of CAFA’s Drawing of 60 Years, 9 cities in China

2010 Searching for the Origin, Chinese Academy of Oil Painting, Beijing

2010 Ma Lu 2010, Yuan Art Museum, Beijing

2010 Plastic Arts - Art Exhibition for the School of Plastic Arts, CAFA, CAFA Art Museum

2010 Invitational Exhibition of the 18th World Aesthetic Conference, Better Life Art Club

2010 My Soil My People - Exhibition of the Northwest China, Xi 'an

2010 Art China, Huantie Times Art Museum

2010 Chinese Expressionism Art Exhibition, MoCA China

2010 Oil Painting Art and Contemporary Society, National Art Museum of China, sponsored by China Oil Painting Society

2009 Art China, Huantie Times Art Museum

2008 Fusion and Innovation - Research Exhibition of Chinese Modern Oil Painting, National Art Museum of China, Beijing

2008 The Culture After Culture, Yuan Art Museum, Beijing

2006 Ma Lu Solo Exhibition, New Beijing Gallery, Beijing

2005 Along the Great River - Respective of Chinese Oil Painting in the New Period, National Art Museum of China, Beijing

2003 The 3rd Chinese Oil Painting Exhibition, National Art Museum of China, Beijing

2002 Chinese Plastic Arts Exhibition, Cairo, Egypt

2001 Research and Beyond - Chinese Small Oil Painting Exhibition, Beijing

2000 Paper Works Touring Exhibition, Beijing, Shenyang, Hangzhou, Shanghai, etc.

1998 China Art Exhibition of Asian Art Festival, Bangladesh

1997 Dusseldorf International Art Exhibition, Dusseldorf, Germany

1992 The 20th Century•China, Beijing

1991 March Exhibition, Beijing

1989 Chinese Expressionism Art Exhibition, Beijing

1989 The 7th National Art Exhibition, Nanjing

1988 Body Art Exhibition, Beijing

Courtesy of the artist, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO