Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle presents new works by the internationally renowned Chinese painter Ding Yi as part of “Various Others” and in cooperation with ShanghART. Ding Yi was one of the first abstract painters in China to turn his back on traditional painting in the early 1980s and to find his own nonrepresentational form of expression. Taking as his point of departure the technical markings used during print production processes, Ding Yi began to explore the concept of the cross; these simple and functional markings initially had nothing to do with artistic creation as such but instead acted as part of a technical procedure. From 1988 onward, he focused entirely on crosses, first with works of ink on paper, then with paintings on canvas and other materials. For Ding Yi the cross constitutes the highest level of precision, while at the same time seeming to negate the possibility of individual expression. The traditional symbols “+” and “x” are at the heart of his paintings, whose multiple superimposed pictorial levels gain depth only through the arrangement and superimposition of these shapes. Many of his works carry the title “Appearance of Crosses.” Ding Yi: “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.”
At first, his works seem printed, not hand-made. It is only upon closer inspection that the various layers, the arrangement and overlays of the crosses — the lines and structures — become visible. The precise colored brushstrokes appear like a woven geometric pattern. Tellingly, between the years 2000 and 2011, Ding Yi used tartan, a crisscross-patterned Scottish cloth type, as a painting surface, as though it were a perfect grid for his graphic form language, which emerges like an endless, distinct weaving pattern.For this exhibition, entitled “Rim Light,” Ding Yi created numerous large - and small-format works on basswood, on whose surface several layers of paint were applied at first in order to then be painstakingly worked on, line by line, with a burin. Black, red, yellow, orange crosses are arranged into groups and structures, seeming like the sparkling lights of a city at night crawling with gleaming taillights. Ding Yi’s rigid geometric painting style forms up into a condensed civilizational fingerprint, in which, not least, for the artist, much about the changing nature of his hometown of Shanghai crops up.
Ding Yi’s works are included in many private and public collections around the world, among them the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Daimler Art Collection, Berlin; DSL Collection, Paris; Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul; Long Museum, Shanghai; M+, Hong Kong; and Yuz Museum, Shanghai.
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