Ding Fang

Ding Fang
b. 1956, Wugong, Shaanxi
Oil painter
Ding Fang was admitted to the Nanjing Art Academy in 1978 where he would begin his master’s in oil painting in 1983. He travelled widely during his studies visiting remote areas such as the Yellow Earth Plateau, Datong and the Taihang mountains. In 1984, he began the City (Cheng) series of paintings inspired by his encounters with the rugged landscapes and cultural ruins of northern China. His monumental abandoned earth-coloured cities yield the symbolic pulsating energy of bygone cultures in the series Sword-Shaped Willpower (Jianxing de yizhi, 1986–7). This trajectory suggests an escape from the present to find more eternal values in ancient culture and in the vigorous life depicted in his earlier pictures such as Harvest (Shouhuo, 1984).
Ding Fang participated in the Jiangsu Youth Art Week in 1986 and formed an art group called the ‘Red Brigade’ (Hongse lu), which held the ‘Vanguard’ (Diyi feng) exhibition in 1987. The Red Brigade Manifesto, written by him in 1987, explains his choice in the context of his tragic vision of human history, which is not so much a leap forward towards any greater purpose but an accumulation of ruins of grand dreams.
Painting therefore takes on a religious overtone in this Sisyphean cycle of human endeavour. This sense of tragedy and religious fatalism becomes more overt and apocalyptic in the paintings completed when he lived in the artists’ village next to the Yuanming Yuan—the Garden of Perfect Brightness (Beijing), such as The Destruction of Sodom (Fenhuide suoduoma cheng, 1993).
(1994). Ding Fang. Nanning: Guangxi meishu chubanshe.
Andrews, Julia F. and Gao, Minglu (1995). The Avant-Garde’s Challenge to Official Art’. In Debora, S.Davis (ed.), Urban Spaces in Contemporary China: The Potential for Autonomy and Community in Post-Mao China. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 221–78.
Lü, Peng and Yi, Dan (1992). Zhongguo xiandai yishushi [A History of Modern Art in China]. Changsha: Hunan meishu chubanshe, 201–7.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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