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Ma Changli's oil works show daily life in warm hues

By LIN QI | China Daily | Updated: 2021-09-28 09:12
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Ma Changli is holding a solo show at the Central Academy of Fine Arts to review his creations on canvas over the past six decades. Highlights include Watertown in Morning Mist. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Ma Changli, who graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 1953, is one of the earliest painters who explored oil painting to depict his country and people, following the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

While many of his peers approached the subject of socialist construction with grand, historical narratives in their works, Ma garnered a reputation in the 1950s and '60s for creating a body of work in which he delivered a much more tender, private and poetic feeling.

Since the 1980s, his enthusiasm for landscape art has grown. With rhythmic brushwork, he depicts natural scenery across the country in which he orchestrates a symphony of the heart and soul.

The Feelings of Nature, an exhibition being held at the Central Academy of Fine Arts through Oct 7, hails Ma's decadeslong endeavor to highlight Chinese refinement, poetry and grace on canvas. It opened on Sept 16, Ma's 90th birthday, and shows over 120 paintings, drawings and sketches made since the early 1960s.

Wu Xueshan, a professor at the CAFA, says that through the decades, Ma has been pursuing an "atmospheric beauty of the East" in his work, and he seeks a harmonious relationship between the Chinese cultural spirit and the color scheme and composition of Western oil paintings.

Wu says Ma seldom draws historic sites or a panoramic view of rivers and mountains that are embedded with symbolic meanings, rather, he prefers to capture "the beauty of the inconspicuous and the casual "found in glimpses of his subjects. For years, he traveled extensively around the country, and his paintings depict natural scenes or people's activities in diverse outdoor settings that show the vitality and reality of day-to-day life.

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