DING Yi's signature takes the form of a cross that is repeatedly and carefully constructed across surfaces. With this minimalist visual rhetoric, painting is not about illusion and the representation of objects. Instead, DING Yi explores an abstract aesthetic through the systematic repetition and direct visual representation of the cross. Created by the layered intersection of vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines across the surface, the paintings encourage the process of perception. Viewed from a distance, everything gradually converges. But viewed up-close, the subtlety of lines and color are vibrantly present. The paintings simultaneously refer to themselves, as paintings per se, and to the reality around them that has only been distilled into grids and check pattern. Rather than creating a future reality, DING Yi proceeds from a preconceived reality. He has conceptually integrated the conditions of the work's production and reception within the work itself. The abstract realism of the paintings have, especially, become an analysis of their conditions of production: the repeated motif of the cross has been re-made again and again, indefinitely and continuously for 18 years now. In his visual structures, he seems to be aiming for a meticulous systematization of simplicity opposed to the bombastic rhetoric of the literati tradition. Thus his crosses on the surface have been described as the embodiment of a deliberate "diffusion of pictorial illiteracy."Read More
The formal method of abstraction and the variations within the repetitive patterns makes DING Yi's work an intriguing case for the relevance of abstract painting in contemporary art. The consistent formal element of the cross in the work embodies a complex interplay of precision and dynamics. Like in Chinese calligraphy, DING Yi's marks connote a certain correlation between the order of the universe and that of the human. The awakening of the individual in relation to the collective whole, present in Zen practices such as calligraphy, mirrors the role the artist holds in his own art making.
DING Yi was born in 1962 in Shanghai, where he works and lives today. He graduated from Shanghai Arts and Crafts Institute in 1983 and Shanghai University, Fine Arts Department in 1990. DING Yi is today regarded as the forerunner of internationally acclaimed Chinese abstract artists. He has exhibited widely and recent exhibitions include: Chinese Abstract Slow Art, Singer Laren Museum, The Netherlands (2011); The State of Things, Contemporary Art from China and Belgium, National Art Museum of China, Beijing (2010); Thirty Years of Chinese Contemporary Art, Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai (2010); Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass, U.S.A. (2009); Writing on the Wall, Chinese New Realism and Avant-Garde in the Eighties and nineties, The Groninger Museum, Groningen, The Netherlands (2008); 85 New Wave - The Birth of Chinese Contemporary Art, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2007); 6th Shanghai Biennale - Hyper Design, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai (2006), Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany (2006). And recent solo exhibition include: Specific Abstracted, Ding Yi Solo Exhibition, Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai (2011); DING YI, Appearance of Crosses, Galerie Waldburger, Brussels, Belgium (2011); Appearance of Crosses from 1989-2007, Solo Exhibition of Ding Yi, Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, Bologna, Italy (2008); Ding Yi, Appearance of Crosses, IKON Gallery, Birmingham, U.K. (2005).
Text courtesy ShanghART.
Ding Yi's paintings refuse to answer, to limit or be limited. Whether small or vast, their multi-hued fields of crosses map and divide pictorial space, transparent and unguarded, beguiling with pattern. But this is no panacea for interpretation, for anything-goes opinion. Look closely at each painting and you can become familiar with them, with...
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