Ding Yi


About Ding Yi

Born 1962 in Shanghai, Ding Yi has been a bold innovator since he committed himself to non-figurative painting in the late 1980s, and is regarded as one of China's foremost artists.

Ding Yi is painting crosses, in endless repetion. All his paintings and drawings are compositions and variations of the same motifs: '+' and 'x'. Consequently, Ding Yi titles his paintings as "Appearance of Crosses". He started to paint crosses in 1988 at a time when China's contemporary art, like Chinese society as a whole, was undergoing a major transition. This transition involved the aggressive influence of contemporary Western culture and the reflection upon traditional Chinese culture. As Ding Yi states, he wanted to rid himself of the burden of traditional culture as well as from the influence of the pure painting style of early western modernism. He wanted to go back to the starting point of art, to reset and start again from zero. Ding Yi chose crosses because he knew them from his previous youthful experience in a printing factory where crosses are the most basic elements in colour printing technology. Obviously, crosses are also symbols laden with various meanings and connotations. But for Ding Yi, they are simply meaningless crosses fit for his painterly purposes, and nothing more. Ding Yi appropriates the crosses and transforms them into the essential structural motifs of his paintings and drawings. Although his works are always built with the same elements, they show a tremendous visual variety. With different colours, structures and layers Ding Yi pushes his works towards maximum diversification. At the same time, the paintings are minimalist and highly expressive.

The perception and interpretation of Ding Yi's work is manifold. Ding Yi is commonly seen as a pioneer of abstract art in China and some scholars emphasise links to classical Chinese art, while others refer to Western conceptual minimal art. However, Ding Yi himself is not strongly interested in classification end even rebels against it when it comes to cultural specificity, he doesn't want his art to be considered as "Chinese" or "Western", but understands himself as an individual artist in an international setting.

Ding Yi has been broadly exhibited in China and abroad, including the 45th Venice Biennale (1993), the 1st Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Brisbane (1993), the 11th Biennale of Sydney (1998), the 1st Yokohama Triennale (2001) and the 6th Shanghai Biennale (2006). Other venues that have hosted important solo exhibitions over the past decade include Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, U.K. (2005); Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna, Bologna (2008); Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai (2011); and Long Museum West Bund, Shanghai (2015). Al large scale painting by Ding Yi has been shown at Art Basel Unlimited 2016. Ding Yi's work can be found in many prominent collections, including Centre Pompidou in Paris; Daimler Art Collection in Berlin; DSL Collection in Paris;  Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul; Long Museum in Shanghai; M+ in Hong Kong; Uli Sigg Collection, Switzerland; Yuz Museum in Shanghai; Fosun Collection, Shanghai; amongst numerous others.