Ma Liuming’s visual expression is full of semantic promiscuity and polysemy, as well as linguistic richness and diversity. The diverse choices and expressions of media such as performance, photography, installation, sculpture and painting present the audience the image of Ma Liuming as an artist who contemplates diligently, has exquisite expressions and endeavors diversified artistic expressions. Here, one may clearly perceive the rigorous requirements and precise planning Ma Liuming pursues for his art. Ma Liuming clearly knows that the meaning of life itself is more important. This led his choice of visual expressions to be closely related to his own life experience. This way, Ma Liuming expresses his artistic viewpoint and philosophy of life through the artistic narrative he has learned throughout his life.
This is a series of visual expressions created with marks and cracks created with knives. The shaping method of his recent serial paintings is the expansion of the previous leakage painting method. The images are shown by the colors from the previous level leaking through, presenting the effects of mottled murals and gold ores. It is simple yet direct and powerful. With the minimum usage of color, it is simple and lively. The fragmented memories of Ma Liuming’s different stages of life are hidden amongst the visual images. Ma Liuming’s performances and various subjects such as children, trees, dogs, and fire contain his artistic experiences and art historical narrative, as well as rationality and order. Furthermore, they harbor a kind of pain due to breakage, tearing and fission. The mixture of individual visual experience, art historical memories, and the reference and usage of classic symbols of performance is not only a reassessment and reflection of art, but also a re-experience of life. Through fragmented memories, Ma Liuming restores the existing way of life while reproducing far-away memories. The wandering, fragile, fearful, lonely, mysterious and multiplying split fragments are all uncertain and ambiguous. However, it is commendable that Ma Liuming deliberately did not restore historical memories, but relived and rediscovered a period of history. What is actually achieved here is a re-creation in the two-dimensional form. This kind of re-creation also constitutes a multicultural context interwoven with the current social, political, cultural, economic, personal and collective experiences. While it demonstrates the profound experience of life, it also deeply shows China’s current social and cultural reality, and responds to the radical era and society. This instinct of following his own inner self has also enabled Ma Liuming to be always exposed to the violently changing social development trend.
Excerpt from “The Meaning of Life Itself – On Ma Liuming’s Paintings”
Ji Shaofeng (Director of Hubei Museum of Art)