Ding Yi

Ding Yi
b. 1962, Shanghai
Graduating from the Shanghai Arts and Crafts Institute (1983) and the School of Fine Arts of Shanghai University (1990), Ding Yi is unique for an enduring and quasi-religious commitment exemplified in the monosyllabic abstraction of the Cross (Shishi) series, which he began in 1988. Using basic marks adopted for dividing a sheet of paper into many squares of equal size, Ding Yi chose to deny access to the pictorial surface of any element not inherent to the painting surface as a bi-dimensional unit defined by the primary elements of dots, lines, planes and colours. Flat and precise, Ding’s early paintings were executed with the help of a ruler and adhesive stripes, resembling colour graphs. Later the square geometry was enriched by the introduction of diagonal and negative patterns of crosses, random juxtapositions of colours, and the use of freehand that added a coarse and random quality to the scientifically calculated character of his previous works. Recently Ding Yi has turned to tartans, juxtaposing their existing patterns and colours with his own.
Obsessive in their repetition, yet allowing for a myriad of variations, Ding’s crosses are completely non-representational, offering complex compositions of brushstrokes and colours triumphing as a purely visual experience. They are the mark of timeless patience and enduring physical exertion. With nine solo shows to date, Ding Yi has been exhibiting in numerous venues at home and abroad, including the ‘China Avant-Garde’ exhibition in Beijing (1989), the Venice Biennale (1993); the Biennale of Sydney (1998); ‘Ding Yi: Fluorescence on Tartan’ at the Chinese Art Archives Warehouse in Beijing (2000); and ‘Appearance of Crosses’ at the Galerie Waldburger in Berlin (2002).
Dematté, Monica (1997).
Theorization of Casualness’. In Ding Yi (exhibition catalogue). Shanghai: ShangART, 2–3.
Doran, Valerie C. (ed.) (1993). China’s New Art, Post-1989, with a Retrospective from 1979 to 1989 (exhibition catalogue). Hong Kong: Hanart T Z Gallery. (Reprinted in 2001 by Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong, 222–5.)
Li, Xu (1994). ‘Shishi Ding Yi’ [Appearance of Crosses of Ding Yi]. In Ding Yi (exhibition catalogue). Beijing: New Amsterdam Art Consulting, 1–2.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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