Magic Ma Studio Exhibition

For many years Magic Ma has been the artist that designed the effigies at Dragon Burn. He’s becoming an ever more popular artist, showcasing his work in China and in Burning Man. When I was in Shanghai, he happened to be opening an art exhibit/studio so I went along to show my support.

When we arrived, there was a small crowd gathered around the owners of the galleries. This was a combined opening for two artists: Magic Ma, and Webson Ji. We joined the crowd and waited.

After the speeches, a brief tour started where Magic Ma explained the sculptures outside of the gallery. Like many of his other sculptures, they would play with perspective, giving you a different image depending on which way you looked at it.

I especially liked the blue tower structure he had built. It made me think of skyscrapers, and how you would get different views from different angles in the city. This piece breaks down that perspective to it’s simplest elements: the towers.

Once the tour was over we were allowed to browse the galleries themselves. We went into Magic Ma’s first. A video played showing Magic Ma’s influences, including the idea of temporary art that burns, and various facets of Chinese culture.

A lot of the pieces in here were ink paintings, experimenting with ink blots, patterns, cubes, and Chinese stamps. This was the first time I’ve seen any art on canvas by Magic Ma. For obvious reasons I was particularly struck by the images of Chinese dragons.

There was one piece of art that I didn’t understand until I returned to Thailand and started visiting temples there. It was a black sculpture, covered in gold leaf. Attendees were encouraged to rub some of the gold leaf off the sculpture.

In Thailand many temples have statues covered in gold leaf, which you can rub to gain blessings of wealth. It’s obvious these statues get recoated when they need to, as there is usually a donation required. Statues like these must have inspired this sculpture by Magic Ma.

Next, we went to Webson Ji’s gallery next door. This exhibition focused on stop signs against dark backgrounds. In many the clouds look destructive, like fire. According to Webson Ji, these images represent how he felt living in a strange land.

A mass of black water that could consume him, encouraging him to stop, to run away. Or he could dive into the water, he could roar, he could run. Join the flow of the water and allow it to wash away the emotions, the differences we have, so we can move forward.

After saying hello to Magic Ma, and taking a few pictures together, we moved on to get some much needed food.

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