The plus signs and crosses in the abstract paintings by Ding Yi (born 1962, Shanghai) are intended to be universal symbols of complete abstraction, allowing him to move away from any social and political contexts. Through careful execution with a paintbrush, ruler, and tape, the ‘+’ motif is articulated in a structured and disciplined manner.
Ding Yi participated in China’s 85 New Wave art movement, which took place in the beginning of the mid-1980s. In this movement, artists advocated for departure from the official standard of Socialist Realism and experimentation with new artistic languages. Their goal was to renew Chinese art.
In this video, Ding explores his work in the context of the two art styles that dominated during the New Wave: Expressionism, emphasising subjective personal expression, and Surrealism, which channels the unconscious through, for example, automatism. However, Ding’s paintings reject symbolic content and narrative meaning as defined by Western expressionism and abstraction. Instead, he pursues an artistic purity and openness free of the perplexities and burdens of traditional Western theories.
This video was originally published on M+ Stories.
M+ Video Production
Chris Sullivan, Jaye Yau, Elaine Wong
M+ Curatorial Research
Isabella Tam, Ethan Cheng
M+ Transcript and Closed Captions
LW Lam, Ellen Oredsson, Amy Leung