In May 2006, Chinese film maker and photographic artist, Maleonn (Ma Liang), exhibited with Craig Scott Gallery for the 10th annual CONTACT Photography Festival in Toronto, North America's largest such event. Maleonn’s show, "Transfigurations", consisted of 29 works from five series – Unforgivable Children, Chinese Story, My Circus, and Shanghai Boys – as well as four works from three other series. The series in the show engaged complementary narratives about the evolution of Chinese identity where multiple contemporary influences (from various globalizations to China’s frenetic capitalism) intersect with deep historical currents (from traditional culture to the Mao period). Maleonn's photography – alternately playful and edged with the macabre – juxtaposes, with singular artistic power, widespread feelings of dislocation and unease at the pace of change in today's China, on the one hand, and the welcoming of new horizons of self-expression and cultural vitality, on the other.
Maleonn's father was Shanghai's leading opera director at the time of his and his family's banishment to a re-education camp during China's Cultural Revolution, resulting in Maleonn being raised outside the camp for a period by extended family. From this early life of hardship and constrained opportunity, Maleonn has emerged as a major cultural figure in 21st Century Shanghai.
Shortly before “Transfigurations” at Craig Scott Gallery, Maleonn was featured in CBC TV’s documentary series China Rises (“City of Dreams,” January 29, 2006). "City of Dreams" periodically re-airs on CBC Newsworld. One of a half-dozen segments focussing on Maleonn in "City of Dreams" can be seen as a video clip on the CBC.ca website at http://www.cbc.ca/chinarises/cityofdreams. As well, one can view a photo essay of older work by Maleonn accompanied by a background 'score' composed by his friend and colleague, Zhung Minghao. In “City of Dreams”, Maleonn describes his work in the following terms: "My photography...is just like life: unpredictable and full of hints, but no answers...We [younger-generation artists such as Maleonn] are trying to understand the deeper meaning of our culture." In a subsequent interview, Maleonn adds, "I have a strong desire to 'manipulate' the objects, in an attempt to have them affected by me, and in turn become a part of the framework I have designed for my photos. They serve as a narrative medium for me and a symbolic code for my work."
The works from the “Transfigurations” show are in editions of 15 with #2/15 in a one-of-a-kind 40x60 cm format (50x60cm, in the case of the Chinese Story series) printed specially for the 2006 CONTACT show and exclusive to Craig Scott Gallery. Prints #1 and #3-15 are 60x90cm (75x90cm in the case of the Chinese Story series). For each work, there is also large-format (90x135 in general and 90x108cm for the Chinese Story series) in an edition of 6. For all series in the “Transfigurations” show, Maleonn also reserves the right to print up to two prints outside the editions of 15 and 6.
”Chinese contemporary art hit New York, en masse, eight years ago with a fireworks bang. The big news of this year’s Asia Week [in New York] is that, for the moment at least, the bang is back. …[P]hotography and video have long since replaced painting in the Chinese vanguard. “Holland Cotter, The Chinese Vanguard is Blazing its Trails with Cameras, NEW YORK TIMES, March 31, 2006