Freize Master 2019 Wang Keping, Huang Rui, Ma Desheng, Liu Heung Shing
03 - 06 Oct, 2019 | 10 Chancery Lane Gallery

“It is extremely difficult to gain artistic freedom, and the Stars had the courage to pay the price for it. The Stars were not there to prove that the road to success was by practicing their art. They were just free spirits, which have gone hand in hand with their success.”

- Huang Rui


"Every member from the Stars is fighting freely on their own path, we haven't lost our original intention for 40 years and this is the spirit of the Stars."

- Ma Desheng


“Stars 40 years, Stars are forever Stars.

Whether day or night, black sky or white nights, the Stars always shine in the sky.

They can be very far but they always emit their own light.”

– Wang Keping


1979 The Stars Group and The Stars Exhibition – The Beginnings of Chinese Contemporary Art

For the 2019 edition of Frieze Masters, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery and Boers Li Gallery co-present the 1979 Stars Exhibition protagonists, artists Huang Rui, Ma Desheng ,Wang Keping, Li Shuang and Yan Li with photo documentation by Liu Heung Shing, Wang Rui, Li Xiaobin and Chi Xiaoning.


The artworks of The Stars Group were born from the defiance of their youth. This trio of avant-garde artists challenged the status quo to initiate free artistic expression in the post-Mao era. Their works were a voice of the future within a China that was on the verge of transformation.


On the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of China’s historically important art event, the 1979 ‘Stars Exhibition’, the early works of Huang Rui, Wang Keping, Ma Desheng, Li Shuang and Yan Li as well as photo documentation by acclaimed photographers 
Liu Heung Shing, Wang Rui, Li Xiaobin and Chi Xiaoning are assembled with archival materials that chronicle the journey through the transformative movement of contemporary art of China. The Stars inspired generations of artists that followed, carving the path of artistic freedom in China. 10 Chancery Lane Gallery and Boers Li Gallery presents a historical journey of the early years of Chinese Contemporary Art.



Huang Rui (Born 1952 in Beijing, China where he lives and works) is an artist that crosses the boundaries of painting, installation, sculpture, photography and performance art. He is well known for his influential role as one of the main leaders of the Stars Group 1979-1983 and the early art avant-garde, as well as a founder of the 798 Art District in 2002. During the late 1970s his figurative paintings showed the everyday sentiments and strife of his generation. In the early 1980s Huang Rui moved away from his earlier figurative painting style and took a radical artistic position of abstraction derived from Chinese concepts. This study of “Space” from the 1980s until today has been a continuous experimentation infused with Taoist and Zen concepts but void of spiritual ideology. 10 Chancery Lane Gallery presents the early works by Huang Rui with two of his most important paintings from the two Stars Exhibitions, “The Guitar’s Story” (1979) and “Man Reading” (1980) and journeys to his present day works “Zen Space” (2019). Huang Rui has exhibited at the Venice Biennale, the Rencontres d’Arles Photography Festival, the Groninger Museum, Netherlands; the Cobra Museum, Amsterdam; the China Institute, New York; the He Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen;  the Guangzhou Museum, Guangzhou; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the M+ Museum, Hong Kong; and in other public and private collections worldwide.



Ma Desheng (Born 1952 in China, lives and works in France) One of the most captivating artists from China, Ma’s early Stars Period (星星) woodblock prints of 1979-1981 publicly confronted and challenged the system. Ma says, “We wanted to express democracy and freedom. And even beauty. At that time beauty was not fashionable.” After leaving China for Europe, Ma worked in ink exploring figurative abstraction in his “transcendental bodyscapes” that tread the realms of both painting and calligraphy. Ma moved to the US where he was tragically involved in a car accident paralyzing him from the waist down. The years that followed were difficult. He moved back to France and began to paint in acrylic on canvas. Working from a wheelchair, he uses brush extensions to paint his massive canvasses. One of Ma’s subjects, since the Stars years in China, are his Rock painting series. Ma explains, “rocks existed before humans.” Ma’s rocks take on a multitude of ideas - balance and harmony alongside the difficulty in movement. They feel almost human yet clumsy, light yet heavy. They express the human condition and his deep underlying philosophies. Ma Desheng is a published poet and his artworks are collected by the M+ Museum, Hong Kong and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, The British Museum, London, Museum Cernuschi, Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, l’Association du Museum d’Art Contemporaine de Chamalières, France, Museum of Oxford, London, Museum de Melun, France, Asian Art Museum, Nice, Museum and Art Gallery of The University of Hong Kong.




Wang Keping (born 1949 in China, lives and works in France since 1984) is known for his blackened wood sculptures that focus on figurative abstraction. He describes his sculptural process as a collaboration between himself and the wood. Seeking pieces of wood that have innate protrusions, knots, branches or warty burls, Wang deftly uses these elements to bring life from the timber into the forms he is conveying. The natural curves of the tree form a woman’s sway or a knot becomes a bundle of hair. The slash of his chisel is intentionally restrained to express the utmost of emotion with the fewest details. Themes include woman, man, mother and child, couples and birds, as well as pure abstractions he terms “Ex Voto.”


Wang Keping is self-taught and was one of the most provocative artists of the The Stars (Xing Xing 星星) Group and Exhibition of 1979 that carried through to the early 1980s. His early works were some of the most boldly political among the group. Presenting at Art Basel HK is his famed Stars Exhibition sculpture “Silence” - a deafened and blinded man - an analogy of the times. His 1979 work “Chain”, showing a man whose mouth is covered by a hand and a chain strung round his neck is now part of Hong Kong’s M+ Uli Sigg Collection. His works are in the collection of the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the M+ Uli Sigg Collection, Hong Kong; the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, among others. Wang Keping was awarded by France with Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for his artistic contribution.



Li Shuang (1957 Beijing) worked as a stage designer for the Chinese National Youth Art Theatre, and was one of the founding members of the Stars. Her artworks were exhibited in both the historic shows of 1979 and 1980 in China and since emigrating to France in 1983 she has held 18 solo shows in France, Switzerland and USA.  Her oil paintings have received international acclaim and they have been collected by many museums in the world, including Epernay Museum, Seoul National Museum and Fukuoka Asian Art Museum.



Yan Li (1954, Beijing) is a poet and painter who moved to the U.S. in 1985. As a member of the group of artists known as The Stars, he first exhibited his works in 1979 and exhibited his first solo exhibition in 1984 at the People’s Park in Shanghai, which is also considered to be the first solo Avant-garde art show after 1949 in China.  He belonged to the loose assortment of young poets active in China in the late 1970s to mid-1980s who are referred to as the "Misty Poets".



In the course of multiple assignments across Asia and the US across the shifting geopolitical landscape that marked the last decades of the 20th century, Liu Heung Shing photographed two of its seminal historic events. First, the rise of China through the upheaval of its economic reforms; second, the collapse of the Soviet Union under the stewardship of Mikhail Gorbachev.


For these achievements, Liu was recognised by the Associated Press as Best Photographer in 1989 and 1991. His coverage of these events has also been awarded Photo of the Year by the University of Missouri, for his coverage of the Tiananmen Turmoil in 1989. In 1992, he shared with his colleagues in Moscow, a Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography for documenting the collapse of the Soviet Union. For this, he further received the Overseas Press Club award in 1992. Liu’s photographs of China are widely recognised by the Chinese public as capturing an era of change that is unique in preserving native Chinese sensibilities and an independent point of view.



10 Chancery Lane Gallery is committed to playing a major role in documenting the development of art
 within the Asia Pacific region by consistently holding survey exhibitions by country or theme of emerging, mid-career and established artists, talks, forums and publishing books that bring together the individual historical context of the artists with the development of the arts within Asia. The gallery focuses on the Asia- Pacific, however, keeps its eye on international opportunities around the world, bringing international cultural appreciation to Hong Kong.


Katie de Tilly is President Emeritus and one of the founders of the Hong Kong Art Gallery Association.



Since its foundation in 2005, Boers-Li Gallery has exhibited and supported the various generations of Chinese contemporary art, exploring its history and pioneering young artists in all media. The gallery represents artists from the first avant-garde movements emerging after the Cultural Revolution, including the 1970s underground period of the Stars and No Name Groups, from the Beijing Abstract Art Movement in the early 1980s, the 85 New Wave Movement, the New Media Movement in the 1990s, to the most recent generation of the Post Internet era. Today, with venues in both Beijing and New York, Boers-Li Gallery is equipped to establish and emancipate the history of Chinese contemporary art and different Chinese traditions that continue to influence, and to start a dialog between the cutting-edge of the Chinese avant-garde and selected Western positions that pursue ideas for a globalized world.


Initially known as Universal Studio Beijing, Boers-Li Gallery was established in 2005 by Waling Boers, a Dutch curator with connections to Chinese artists as founder of the non-profit art space Büro Friedrich in Berlin, and Chinese curator Pi Li. It moved into its current venue in the center of 798 Art District in Beijing in 2016, the year that Jia Wei, former head of the Beijing Poly Auction art department, joined as a partner to co-lead the gallery together with Boers. In 2017, the gallery opened new spaces in the Upper East Side of New York, aiming to develop and communicate art in the constantly changing contemporary context. In contemporary showcases and historical exhibitions, the gallery will continue to mediate between new and renowned artistic positions, engaging with collectors as well as institutional curators, above all, giving artists a platform to pursue and materialize innovative ideas.