Lives and works in Shanghai
Ding Yi (b. 1962), a contemporary Chinese artist based in Shanghai, perceives painting as an ideal form of reflection and retrospection. The majority of his works feature repetitions of the “+” sign, superimposed in different layers, colors, and rotations; the tiny, manually painted symbols cover the entire surface of large canvases, requiring a painstaking amount of precision and technical skill. While many of his contemporaries utilize iconographic and figurative references, Ding pursues a space devoid of meaning by using a simple visual motif. Although he rebels against cultural specificity, Ding’s works have been interpreted as an abstraction of the neon lights and brightly colored advertisements that permeate Asian metropolises, aerial views of city grids, and Chinese textiles. Indeed, the artist admits to being inspired by Shanghai as a Chinese city that he has witnessed the growth of for decades – a city as an emblem of modernity with a certain rhythm despite moments of chaos.
“[I] found it necessary to distance myself both from the burden of traditional Chinese culture and from the influence of early Western modernism, in order to go back to the starting point of art, in order to literally start from zero.”