Shanghai, China ,1962.
Ding Yi’s career includes studies in decorative arts at the Shanghai School of Arts & Crafts, a position as designer in a toy factory, and studies in traditional Chinese painting at Shanghai University. The diversity of this background has been reflected, in his work, in the simultaneous coexistence of a high degree of apparent mechanization, repetition and precision, along with a creative impulse towards novelty and formal experimentation.
Though as a student he already favored abstraction, it was in 1988, when he began the infinite series called Appearance of Crosses, that Yi started to develop a unique visual language that contradicted the typical formats of Chinese painting of that time. Using the cross as a formal referent, sometimes emptied from meaning, sometimes associated with negation, Yi projected a distance from expression and the sentiment that predominated in his artistic environment. The idea of combining the principles of design with those of painting resulted, then, in an approach that he has called “the rational abstract”, in which the rigor of the lattice coincides with the dynamism of stroke and color.
His artistic practice includes painting, sculpture, and installations, and is circumscribed by the idea of promoting the autonomy of the artistic field beyond politics and history: “abstract art”, says Yi, “can represent the spirit”.
Ding Yi lives and works in Shanghai, China.
Appearance of Crosses, 2017, Mixed media on basswoood, 240 x 240 cm.