Ding Yi: Highlight
Galerie Karsten Greve St. Moritz
Monday - Saturday 10 am – 1 pm / 2 pm – 6.30 pm
Saturday, April 3, 2021, 1 pm - 7 pm
Galerie Karsten Greve is delighted to show Ding Yi’s second solo exhibition in St. Moritz. Karsten Greve first presented the artist in 2006 as part of his Contemporary Chinese Art group exhibition, followed by seven subsequent Ding Yi solo exhibitions in his galleries in Cologne, Paris, and St. Moritz. This is Ding Yi's twelfth exhibition staged in partnership with Galerie Karsten Greve, new pieces on wood and handmade paper are on show. The color range is dominated by nuances of bright lime and lemon chrome, interspersed with black, light gray, and white speckles of color. Ding Yi's color combinations call to mind neon lights, marker pens, or oscillating billboards. At first glance, the surface that is entirely covered with crosses appears as if it were a two-dimensional, computer-generated printed or stitched composition or a color screen. In general, the artist's latest works are increasingly characterized by use of special types of color such as neon color or glitter pigment, which also involves a breach with traditional color systems. In his latest pieces, we see Ding Yi explore the depiction of light and his interest in the emergence of unfamiliar optical effects created by neon signs, head and tail lights, lines of vehicles, billboards. The harsh contour plot of the pattern of crosses functions as a fluorescent aureole, and serves to express reflected light, gleaming light – Highlight.
Born in Shanghai in 1962, Ding Yi completed his studies at the Shanghai Arts and Crafts Institute in 1983, before going on to study traditional Chinese painting at the Fine Arts Department at Shanghai University, graduating in 1990. Following his explorations of Socialist Realism, during his time as a student Ding Yi increasingly found inspiration in Western art, while also examining the work of artists dedicated to traditional and contemporary Chinese painting. Ding Yi was one of the first Chinese abstract painters to become famous in the West. In 1993, he participated in the Venice Biennale as well as in China Avant-Garde!, an exhibition of contemporary Chinese art presented at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin; he was invited to take part in the Yokohama Triennale in Japan in 2001 and in the Guangzhou Biennale in China in 2002. In 2008, the Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna in Italy dedicated an important solo exhibition to the artist. On a regular basis, Ding Yi's works are presented internationally in solo and group exhibitions, for instance in the recent solo exhibition Appearance of Crosses at the Nova Contemporary Gallery in Bangkok, and at the Long Museum, Chongqing. His works are included in the collections of international institutions such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Daimler Collection in Berlin, and the Long Museum in Shanghai. Ding Yi has been a professor at the Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts since 2005. The artist lives and works in Shanghai.
During the early 1980s, Ding Yi developed his first complex series of works with a multitude of variations and different colors of crosses. In China, the cross is associated with a wide range of non-religious connotations. Since time immemorial, the cross has been used as a decorative pattern on porcelain and fabrics; today, the cross is a ubiquitous sign which appears in non-religious contexts in China's everyday life. Cross-shaped crop marks for the cutting lines in printing served as a direct source of inspiration for Ding Yi. In 1988, he painted his first pieces from the Appearances of Crosses series, initially in ink on paper, soon to be followed by pieces in oil on canvas or wood. His pictures are entirely made up of + and x marks. Several layers of paint and conglomerations of superimposed cross shapes were the basis from which the artist developed a rich and varied range of color nuances and spatial depth. To create his works using a negative process, Ding Yi relies on mixed media on wood (American basswood). The painting surface is incised by hand with an all-over grid. Lines in different widths and shapes uncover layers of pigment, texture, and shades of color. Both the way the piece is created and the manual working process involved are exact opposites to the appearance of the artwork. Ding Yi's panels are interactive in that the viewer can perceive the depth effect of the piece in its entirety, while he is also invited to scrutinize the work at close range to explore the depth effect of its incised surface and the mapping of imaginary cities.