Ma Sibo’s canvases show us fragments of intimate landscapes, like windows into the soul. Their evocative power is derived from a de-realization of scraps of daily life that seem transported into a dreamlike and mysterious dimension.
Plays of light and haziness, obtained by an astonishing manipulation of his materials in gradation, create a troublingly strange effect that blankets the banal scenes and spaces. In these places, purged of all human presence, sensations are elicited by things and colors. Indeed, Ma Sibo’s brushes envelope inert objects with an emotional aura, awakening distant memories and a vague nostalgia.
Merry-go-rounds in a theme park, a suitcase or clothing abandoned in the half-light of a bedroom are pictorial reminiscences of a past childhood. The very vision of the space seems to be “on a child’s scale”: the eye does not see the entirety of the landscape, but it is struck by details and objects in the foreground, bathed in a vibrant and evanescent light. Therefore, the spectator grasps only the atmosphere of these falsely realist places, these silent “interiors” and “gardens” outside of any precise time or space.
Ma Sibo studied painting and calligraphy in China, before spending four years in France specializing in fine art. His principle references in painting are the great masters of impressionism, for their hazy and imperceptible transitions between shadow and light, Mark Rothko, for his fluidity of colors and the “silence” of his large colored surfaces, and Edward Hopper, for his piercing light and representations of the loneliness of urban life.
Ma Sibo often wanders through Beijing, where he lives and works, taking photographs of hidden corners amongst the buildings, sheltered from the frenetic energy of the city. These photographs serve as inspirations and models for his painstakingly worked oil paintings. As they are gradually faded, stratified and retouched by the paint, these landscapes take on the dreamlike atmosphere of the unreal.
A strange mixture of reality and imagination, Ma Sibo’s luminous visions recall Baudelaire’s Windows: closed to the outside world but lit from within by a dazzling and vivid candle, revealing the poetry of our dreams.