Ma Sibo’s artistic training comes from two traditions: calligraphy he studied in China and oil painting he studied in France. Both painterly traditions are united in his choice of topic: landscape. The hazy atmosphere of his paintings is reminiscent of Impressionism, while the fluidity and rhythm of his brush recalls the gesture of Chinese ink masters. His choices of scenes - whether indoors or outdoors – are inspired by sights he has seen. They originate from reality; Ma creates them on canvas in a version that transcends reality and transports the place from mundane to oneiric, veiled in the appearance of memory and nostalgia. The subject of the painting actually goes through a complex and painstaking process. First the artist explores the city, searching for an ideal scene. He wanders through Beijing notably, documenting more intimate parts of the city. He then takes pictures of the subject - corners hidden from the hustle and bustle of activity - which are seemingly dormant, almost appearing abandoned as if the human presence is erased. These photographs become blueprints of his oeuvre.
A repetitive technique of layering and rendering a hazy light develops faded contours of inanimate elements of landscape which translates into surreal atmosphere. Ma then softens the image to convey a feeling of poetry which never exists in real life. The artist’s choice of scale further strengthens this sense of unreality. Colors and tone gradation enhance contrasts. In Red Pool, colors even contradict reality; a pool is normally in cool tones blue or grayish green. Ma Sibo purposely depicts it in red. The reflection of the toboggan divides the work into two parts - shadows and light, making the composition more intriguing. Above is a mist of light, only the vegetation of trees and colorful squares are distinct while the composition is more complex under the slide. Water reflection lies in the foreground, followed by a fence and walls. The rhythm of the composition adds to the poetry that exudes from the work.