Ma-Xia School refers to a group of Chinese landscape artists that used a style of painting named after Ma Yuan (馬遠, ca. 1160–1225) and Xia Gui (夏珪, fl. 1180–1230), two great painters of the Southern Song academy. The aim of their landscapes was to create a feeling of limitless space, a vast atmospheric void out of which a few elements, such as mountain peaks and twisted trees, emerge with subdued drama. Ma and Xia are credited with the fullest expression of this tendency in Chinese painting.
Ma-Xia School compositions are of a type, called “one corner” or “one side”, that is asymmetrical, with the design weight off to one side and the rest of the silk or paper left bare or slightly tinted. Ink tones are simplified to increase the dramatic impact of brush work of a type called “ax stroke,” for the similarity of its brushstrokes to those left on wood by an ax or chisel. In general there is a preference for angular line expressed in abrupt, staccato brushstrokes.