N3 Contemporary Art

Established in 2014, N3 Contemporary Art is based at 706 North 3rd Street, 798 Art Zone. N3 Contemporary Art’s primary concern lies with the fulfillment of individual value within the landscape of contemporary art. Its team works with artists closely, and applies an unostentatious curatorial strategy to connect multiple plural contexts. N3 Contemporary Art endeavors towards an understanding of art in our time.


Ma Ke


N3 Contemporary Art is pleased to present an exhibition of recent paintings by Ma Ke. The exhibition will be on display from 18 May to 18 July 2020.

“I paint by covering, or, to be more concise, altering previous images. I accumulate energy by constantly breaking old habits or by challenging my own thinking. To me, the Artist’s character is based upon the energy they secure from the present moment.”

“The nude woman in my painting doesn’t represent a certain person – rather, it is the construction of a form, the model of a visual syntax and the concept of a human body.”

—Ma Ke

Like a musician composing a piece with only high notes, Ma constantly secures energies from the present moment and compresses them into intense emotions on his canvas. His paintings are some compressed images summarising different fragments of a Body - an illusionary Body that originates in the artist’s memories and the image bank of the physical and virtual worlds. 

For Ma, painting is fascinating because it embodies the artist’s imagination and construction. Modern painting is attributed to the painter’s construction of thought rather than to the painter’s senses. What a painting represents, therefore, does not matter anymore. It is easy to conduct a visual analysis on a painting – it can be deconstructed into shapes, light, shadows, and compositions. It is difficult, however, to describe how a painting comes into being, because the Body cannot be painted by mere words – it must be done by practice. The painter’s job is to capture and paint the Body – this is time-consuming and labour-intensive. Ma often paints on a canvas two to three times higher than himself with a brush attached to the farthest end of a long wooden stick. He moves the stick laboriously every time he paints.

Ma’s paintings are speculative fictions on canvas, and they find their audience in both the physical and virtual world. His works are attractive because they give free rein to your imagination. Some of his sketches may even make you feel an urge to draw something, anything. After finishing The Name of the Roses, Umberto Eco writes that there are two types of writers: the first type writes what they presume the reader wants to read, while the second creates their ideal readers as they write. Similarly, some painters, like Ma Ke, create their own ideal audience as they paint.

About the Artist

1970 Born in Shandong, China

1990 - 1994 BA Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts

1993 Awarded Luo Zhongli Scholarship

1998 - 1999 Lived and taught in Eritrea, East Africa

2005 MFA, Central Academy of Fine Arts

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2020 Ma Ke, N3 Contemporary Art, Beijing

2018 Ma Ke, Galerie Ruhdiger Schottle, Munich

2014 “Idioms-Ma Ke”, Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles

2013 "Evidence" by Ma Ke, Platform China Contemporary Art Institute, Hong Kong

Ma’s works are held in many private and public collections, including Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland; The Hammer Museum, Chicago; M+ Museum, Hong Kong.