Curated by Dr Shane McCausland of SOAS, University of London, a forthcoming solo show of the acclaimed contemporary abstract painter Ding Yi, entitled What’s Left to Appear is going to be presented at Long Museum (West Bund) from 7th June to 26th July 2015.
Regarded as one of China’s foremost artists and a pioneer of abstraction, Ding Yi (b. 1962, Shanghai) has been painting crosses since the late 1980s: his series of paintings, whether predominantly black, based on tartan or else elaborated in intense fluorescent colours, all bear the title Appearance of Crosses with a date. The cross, whether a + or an X, is a motif that the artist has declared is a formal mark without meaning, while the context of this work is the industrial-paced development of the urban environment in post-socialist China. His perennial idiom – the grid – speaks to a context in place and time, through its association with the frenetic communications networks and distinctive fluorescence of the contemporary city.
The exhibition is a fitting celebration of a group of new works on plywood from 2015. Deliberately created on a large scale with the massive central space of the Long Museum in mind, the artist uses thick layers of lacquer-like paint scored through to reveal searing layers of colour, structured as always by his trademark grid idiom. Complementing the new work, the exhibition will feature up to one hundred further paintings and drawings on media including canvas, tartan and paper.
The new works display considerable virtuosity in his command and deployment of a growing range of techniques associated with his grid idiom. The carved lines, components of the grid, are beautifully modulated with thickening and thinning shapes and supple or taut qualities as in calligraphy, even if Ding Yi dismisses his lineament as not ‘centred-tip’ (zhongfeng) – a byword in calligraphic lore for being technically complete. But the carved line is a multiple technique, destroying and removing paint and wood only to simultaneously create by revealing layers of colour or even the wood base below.
The result is that Ding Yi’s grid, in the new paintings, becomes even more rich and complex as an artistic framework, enabling further exploration and revealing new qualities and characteristics. Mediated by our degree of generosity to the work with our eyes, prompt fresh reflections in the mind and sensations in the body that are unfamiliar yet exciting and recognizably of our place and time.
The exhibition will be mounted on the ground and mezzanine levels, a space covering almost 3,000 square metres, which is to be devoted for the very first time to the work of a single artist. The exhibition will explore the untapped design potential of this display area with the aim of providing a distinctive environment for lingering and looking, a cultural garden for an immersive experience of Ding Yi’s work, one which will delight audiences familiar with all but Ding Yi’s new work and draw in new audiences to whom his work is as yet strange or mysterious.
The show’s title, What’s Left to Appear is a phrase that visitors may wish to keep in mind when faced with the paintings: it is a question or a statement, rather than an answer or explanation, conceived to prompt discovery and exploration through Ding Yi’s visual world of grids and colours. Though the paintings appear static or fixed as images, in a Chan or Daoist paradox, as soon as the spectator takes up a relational position they begin to self-transform. Their potential as nourishment and guidance for the spirit awaits only the reciprocal patience, commitment and indulgence of the viewer.
About the artist
Ding Yi (b. 1962) was born and currently resides in Shanghai. He graduated from Shanghai Arts & Crafts Institute in 1983 and graduated from Shanghai University with B.F.A. in 1990. His recent solo exhibitions include: “Ivory Black” (ShanghART Singapore, Singapore, 2015); “Scintillement” (GalerieKarstenGreve, Paris, 2014); “Specific, Abstracted” (Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, 2011); “Appearance of Crosses from 1989-2007, Solo Exhibition of Ding Yi” (Museod’ArteModerna di Bologna, Bologna, 2008); “Ding Yi, Appearance of Crosses” (Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, U.K., 2005).
Select international group exhibitions include: “China 8, Contemporary Art from China at the Rhine and Ruhr”, Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg, 2015); “Hans van Dijk: 5000 Names” (UllensCenter for Contemporary Art, Beijing; Witte de With Center, Rotterdam, 2014); “Verso Est, Chinese Architectural Landscape” (MuseoNazionaleDelleArti Del XXI Secolo MAXXI, Rome, 2011); “Shanghai” (Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, 2010); “’85 New Wave, The Birth of Chinese Contemporary Art” (Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, 2007); “Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection” (Bern, Hamburger, Barcelona, etc. 2005-2009); “Living in Time, 29 Contemporary Artists from China” (Hamburger BahkhofMuseum FürGegenwart, Berlin, 2001).
Ding Yi has participated in the 45th Venice Biennale (1993), the 1stAsia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (1993), the 11th Biennale of Sydney (1998), the 1st YokohamaTriennale (2001), the 6th Shanghai Biennale (2006), the 7thShenzhen Sculpture Biennale (2012).
About the curator
Shane McCausland is a researcher of art history and a curator specializing in the arts of China from medieval to contemporary times. Since 2009, he has been an academic at SOAS, University of London. He was previously deputy director for collections and curator of East Asian art at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin. As an undergraduate, he read Oriental Studies (Chinese) at Cambridge University and received his doctorate in art history with East Asian studies from Princeton University with a thesis on Zhao Mengfu written under the supervision of the Shanghai-born scholar Wen C. Fong 方聞. He has organized many exhibitions, including a major loan exhibition from the Shanghai Museum to the Chester Beatty Library at the time of the Shanghai Expo in 2010, entitled Telling Images of China: Narrative and Figure Paintings, 15th-20th Century, from the Shanghai Museum描繪中國, in collaboration with Shan Guolin and Ling Lizhong. He has also published many books and articles including, most recently, The Mongol Century: Visual Cultures of Yuan China, 1271-1368(London: Reaktion Books, 2014). Chinese editions of his books on Mongol-Yuan art and on the calligraphy and painting of Zhao Mengfu are forthcoming.
About the exhibition
Curator: Shane McCausland
Dates: Jun 7, 2015 — Jul 26, 2015
Opening: Jun 6, 2015 17:00
Organizer: Long Museum
Sponsor: ShanghArt Gallery
Courtesy of the artist and Long Museum, for further information please visit http://thelongmuseum.org.