Ma Yong Qiang works with sand applied onto a canvas. His creations conjure the form and formlessness of sand, together with the kinetic energy of perpetual motion. The shapes are always melting away, just as you might imagine holding a ball of sand in your hands and watching the grains fall away. Yet, the sand does not disintegrate – the grains in Ma’s creations are in transition, being gathered up and reformed into a new shape. Form and formlessness, creation and recreation – this gives his mixed media canvasses a dynamic sense of movement and life.
1971 Born in Yantai, Shandong Province
2008 Graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing with a Masters Degree
Member of the China Artists’ Association
Currently residing in Beijing as a professional artist
Ma Yong Qiang was inspired to experiment with sand after a visit to the beach. At first sight the sands of the beach look lifeless, but on closer examination, he saw that the beach was its own ecosystem and was teeming with life. The large expanse of the beach was pitted with tiny sand dunes, and on closer inspection, there were pencil-thin small holes among clusters of these tiny dunes. Ma noted numerous fingernail-sized crabs coming in and out of these holes, and discovered that the dunes were a result of the frantic digging of the crabs.
“I was just like a giant coming upon a Lilliputian state. The little lives were completely absorbed with their tasks and completely ignored my existence. The sense of life on the beach struck me with such intensity; it was as if the entire beach has suddenly come to life for me.”
“In my childhood, the beach was always accessible to me and I took the beach for granted, paying little attention to it. Revisiting the beach after all these years evoked a sense of wonder – the endless expanse of the beach, countless easily missed piles of sand and the countless industrious crabs. It left me with a different perception of life that I felt I had to find a way to express.
“The first work based on this sense of life was Crying Sands No. 1. I first used natural sands as the primary material, and for the first time for me, the material I used was more than just a medium of communication but had actual meaning for me. “
Ma’s sand creations evoke the form and formlessness of sand. The forms he creates are in perpetual motion. The shapes are always melting away, just as you might imagine holding a ball of sand in your hands and watching the grains fall away. Yet, the sand doesn’t disintegrate – the grains in Ma’s creations are in transition, being gathered up and reformed into a new shape. Form and formlessness, creation and recreation – this gives his creations a dynamic sense of movement and life.
2011 “Evidence of Life” Solo exhibition at the Today Art Museum, Beijing
2011 “Passage” Solo mixed media exhibition at the China Visual Arts Centre, Beijing
2013 “A Date With Spring” Landscape oil painting exhibition at the V2 Gallery, Beijing
2013 “New Abstract Art” Oil painting invitational exhibition at the Phoenix Art Palace, Wuxi
2013 Contemporary Art Salon exhibition, Yuan Art Museum, Beijing
2012 Highly Promising Contemporary Artists Invitational Exhibition, Art Gallery of China National
Academy of Painting, Beijing
2012 Exhibition of Collected Contemporary Art, Dongjiao Museum, Beijing
2012 China International Art Fair, China National Convention Center, Beijing
2012 8th Contemporary Exhibition by Song Yuan Gallery, Beijing
2012 15th Beijing International Art Expo “New Directions for Abstract Art”, China World trade
2012 Beijing Impressions Street Exhbition Hall opening exhibition, Songzhuang, Beijing
2012 “No Limits” 5th May Fourth International Youth Festival, Enjoy Art Museum, Beijing
2012 “Enjoy, Weekend” Young Artists Exhibition, Enjoy Art Museum, Beijing
2012 Private Collection Exhibition, Guangdong Mayland Art center, Guangzhou
2011 4th China Youth Art Exhibition, National Art Museum of China, Beijing
2011 2nd Chongqing Youth Art Biennial, Sichuan Art Academy Museum, Chongqing
2011 5 Year Retrospect of Contemporary Art, Today Art Museum, Beijing
2011 “New Lease of Life” exhibition, Beijing
2011 China Oil Painting Academy invitational exhibition, Beijing
2010 Exhinition at the Wanhe Gallery, Beijing
2008 Central Academy of Fine Arts Post-Graduate exhibition, Central Academy of Fine Arts
2007 18th China Printmaking Exhibition, Shanghai Museum of Fine Arts, Shanghai
2007 Contemporary Art Faculty of Central Academy of Fine Arts awards exhibition (silver), Today
2007 Central Academy of Fine Arts “Lighting the Way” exhibition, Beijing
2006 China Printmaking Exhibition, Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts, Tianjin
2006 Central Academy of Fine Arts Stone Lithography exhibition, Beijing
2006 Shandong Province exhibition of prize winning nature study works, Shandong Museum of
Fine Arts, Jinan
2000 14th China Artists’ Association New Artists Exhibition, National Art Museum of China, Beijing
1999 50th National Day Shandong Museum of Fine Arts Exhibition, Silver Prize, Jinan
1998 4th National Watercolour Exhibition, Qingdao Museum of Fine Arts, Qingdao
1997 Shandong Museum of Fine Arts exhibition, Bronze prize, Jinan
Shandong Academy of Fine Arts
Central Academy of Fine Arts
Today Art Museum
Shanghai Museum of Fine Arts
Guangdong Mayland Art Center
Ma Yong Qiang recent work has been on non-figurative abstract expression based on sand on canvas. He uses different gradients of sand; fine sand to create the overall texture and ‘colour scheme’ and small ball bearing sized round pebbles to shape the composition.
Ma applies a layer of glue to the canvas to hold the sand. The glue is not of the same thickness and is not evenly applied, depending on the intent and whether the artist wants to be able to remove some of the larger pebbles to create a ‘white space’.
Ma originally used coarser beach sand in his work but switched to fine grain industrial sand for better control and effect. He has also started using colour in his newer compositions. He mixes oil paint with the sand and lets it dry to create a coloured powder sand.
Ma applies sand to the canvas by hand, controlling the flow and distribution to create different densities of fine sand on the canvas. He applies the sand while laying the canvas horizontal on the ground or at an angle. He uses the angular approach to good effect by having the larger pebbles that he has applied first to block the downward flow of sand, creating white space in the shadow of the pebble.
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