"Crosses, as the intersections of two lines, such as longitude and latitude, are often the means by which a precise location is indicated. In Ding Yi’s work they take on an existentialist significance, as mantra-like gestures they reiterate the fact that the artist physically “was there”. Without being particularly religious, the artist acknowledges the influence of Taoism, especially in his aspiration to simplicity and the blurring of boundaries – signified, for example, by a transparency of process and confusion of motif and ground. Yet, at the same time, Ding Yi asserts the metropolitan nature of his work, its increasingly bright colours being inspired by the neon quality of Shanghai at night. His new work is at once a kind of a meditation and a contemporary Chinese rejoinder to Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie, beautiful and thoughtful, quite unlike any other painting being made today. Seen here, in the context earlier series, it makes an interesting case for the continuing relevance of abstraction in contemporary art." (Jonathan Watkins, Ikon Gallery, 2005)
Shanghart's first exhibtion when the gallery was founded in 1996, was with Shanghai based artist Ding Yi. In the 10 years since then, Ding Yi has become one of the best known abstract Chinese artists with many exhibitions in China and all over the world to his credit. Ding Yi's work itself, still based on the same symbol of the “+” or cross he uses since 1989, developed strongly. A simple cross of two lines, its infinite complexity and extensiveness is able to capture your sight in ever new ways and intensities. Seemingly distanced to the everyday life, Ding Yi's work still reflects, reacts, excludes or absorbs the enormous changes of his busy Shanghai surroundings.
Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, UK, invited Ding Yi to hold a retrospective exhibition of his works end of last year. It was one of the rare solo exhibitions of a mainland Chinese artist in a major international museum. The exhibition was a big success and got good critical acclaim.
Shanghart is proud to be able to present many of the works from the Ikon gallery exhibition and so be able to fully present Ding Yi's 'way of art', his experience and development through more than a decade.