This exhibition comprises ten paintings by Ding Yi produced between 2020 and 2021 from his "Appearance of Crosses" series, which he has been developing for more than thirty years. Graduated from the Shanghai School of Arts and Crafts, Ding Yi is considered one of the most relevant figures in contemporary Chinese art. Roughly, his work is characterized by constant attention to the act of painting, reasoning, and imagining.
The exhibit's name comes from a homonymous text developed by the critic, curator, and historian art Cuauhtémoc Medina, especially for a publication that comes along with this exhibition. Anomalous Galaxies refer to patterns of crosses that in the distance reveal something similar to celestial bodies inside a universe. Although they are galaxies that lack spiral forms, they are offered as reflections on a panoramic vision of everything that shapes us as subjects.
Ding Yi began to work on this series around 1988, motivated by doubts and reflections on urbanization. Later, he became interested in how civilization has evolved and our position as subjects in the world. his most recent concern focuses on the understanding and expression of light and the elements that compose the universe.
Shanghai, his native city, has been characterized by an accelerated growth in economic, social and cultural terms; lights, displays, buildings and movement are elements that make up an urban landscape, from which Ding Yi takes the aesthetics to configure his works. In spite of diversity in layouts, his pieces have a design that evokes and incorporates his feelings about Shanghai and thus turn his practice into an expression of modernization.
The technical work of Ding Yi is based on precision, detail, and meticulousness. These characteristics are developed from neat brush handling and freehand strokes of pure lines, vertical, horizontal, and diagonal, and intersections generated between them on a wood or rice paper; in this surfaces he combines acrylic with other pigments or chalk with colored pencils, but always looking to create new ranges that offer originality to each piece. Another critical tool for the visual result in some of his works is using a gouge (an instrument used in wood carving), which reveals, at various points of the piece, the layers of paint of different colors that compose them. Ding Yi’s works present an apparent repetition and systematization through the use of the cross, however these intersections on lines become a symbolized language that constructs a visual narrative. The objective, as described by the artist himself, is to make paintings that don’t look like paintings, making art and its creation process a personal system.
Ding Yi’s creative process to produce a work is intuitive, it has no established order or specific formula. Always immersed in his media from beginning to end, Ding Yi builds the work randomly; one stroke in the center, then at the top, another in a corner -or somewhere distant from the previous one- without defining yet the location or color of the next one. The artist performs a constant exercise between moving away and getting closer to his pieces to build the patterns that will shape the figures we observe. Although focus is on detail, the sense of the totality of the work is never lost.
"(...) I wanted to paint something with absolutely no metaphor: without any injection of personal experience. I tried to cut the bond between the painting and traditional cultural metaphors and create something completely unfamiliar. (...) all this to ensure that there would be no metaphorical meaning within my works."
The diversity and variations of bodies or clouds, as Medina calls them, that we find in each of his works, belong to a whole; however, they don’t lose their relevance - as isolated objects - since each one is constructed based on gestures with a specific rational order and that, since there is no rule of interpretation, can present multiple possibilities. This is how a double articulation is achieved in Ding Yi’s work.
Ding Yi’s works conjure energetic and luminous fields; they are chaos and order. A constant of variations scattered on a surface that constantly refer to the relationship between the singular and the multitude. His paintings are agglomerations and dispersions about energy interpretation that activate a particular visual exercise, where the immediate effect that one has when confronted with the work is what matters.