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China's pioneer of abstract art unveils new paintings in London

By Bo Leung in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-05-17 23:56

Shanghai-born artist Ding Yi, a pioneer of abstract art in China, will present his first solo London exhibition, at the Timothy Taylor gallery in the capital's Mayfair starting on Friday.

Appearance of Crosses includes seven pieces that have not been shown before. They incorporate his signature technique, which comprises the use of small crosses that are constructed in layers across the surface of the canvas.

Ding builds up vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines into patterns and the finished pieces are like a hybrid between a painting and a woodcut.

"The seven pieces of art exhibited have a pattern," he said. "Together, they elaborate the extension of time and movement. The squares in the first green piece gradually extend and spread into crosses. The red series expresses more power, like an explosion from a volcano. I wanted to depict such power in my art."

Ding began using crosses to express himself in the late 1980s as a "synonym of structure, rationality, and pictorial expressiveness that reflects the essence of things".

He said he wanted to show a progressive pattern in his London show.

Ding lives in Shanghai, a city that inspires him with its variety and speed of change.

"Shanghai has always been a prototype of urbanization," he said. "The city has shown so much power during the last three decades and I wanted to express that power and the transition of the city in my art."

He said contemporary art has played an important role in both the social and economic development of China during the last 30 years, something he believes has allowed the country to connect more closely to the rest of the world.

Timothy Taylor, the gallery owner, said: "I didn't do this exhibition because I saw Ding Yi as a Chinese artist, I did it because I fell in love with the work, because the work made sense to me. I have a passion for a certain type of romantic abstraction and this is rather powerful. Ding Yi is not defined by geographical parameters."

Ding graduated from Shanghai Arts and Crafts Institute in 1983 and from Shanghai University's school of fine arts in 1990.

He has already been the subject of solo exhibitions in Switzerland, Italy, and France as well as in the Chinese cities of Wuhan and Shanghai.

He uses a wide range of tools and techniques to create not only paintings but also sculptures, spatial installations and architecture. In addition to canvas, oil paints, and acrylics, he has employed linen, tartan, corrugated paper, fans, charcoal, chalk, ballpoint pens, pastels, pencils, markers, and other materials in his art.

"I don't really see the future to be a simple combination of Chinese and Western art," he said. "I expect Chinese artists to create our own contemporary art platform, which can also accommodate Western arts."

The exhibition runs until June 24.

Yang Jing in London contributed to this story

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