Nova Contemporary is pleased to present in support with Shanghart Gallery Appearance of Crosses, showcasing Chinese painter Ding Yi for his first solo exhibition in Thailand, displaying a series of work devoted to the recurring motif, ’x’ and ‘+’. Ding has been exploring these symbols since the late 1980s, beginning a series of experimentations titled Appearance of Crosses, a long exploration of a different method of painting, which employs a process of creating complex calculations in order to define an underlying structure for the composition. This began in the early stages of Ding’s artistic development where a pure focus was on ‘technical precision’.The exhibition will elaborate on works made in 2019, essentially painting experiments that are part of Ding’s process of studiously dissecting, deconstructing, intertwining and riffling on these motifs for more than three decades.
The labour-intensive process can potentially prolong to a 15 hour day for six months in which it becomes a form of reflection and introspection, rejecting a narrative by laboriously exacting precision and creating intricate structures, merging Ding’s rational approach to painting in the urban environment of a post-socialist China, Ding’s country of residence. Ding would adopt mundane apparatus of rulers, tape and drafting pens to provide the highest level of precision, where the work appears to be mechanically printed. These rational methods and lack of fundamental change throughout Ding’s artistic period has been one of its most distinguishing and compelling characteristics.
“It’s not my intention to do something that’s deliberately difficult,” he says. “The major challenge for me is to explore a new language with which to express myself, not to simplify the technique.”
The work is intense with colour and dimension, experimenting with a kaleidoscope of monochrome and fluorescent tones, creating abstract geometric shapes individually painted with acrylic whether that be on paper, canvas or fabric, with an undertone of an appearance of minimalism without the process of maximal application and consciousness. The repetition can also be considered a betrayal of minimalism; a contradiction between the simple motif and the complexity of the painting. To understand and access the crosses is to enter Ding’s mind. The context has always considered the ever-growing development of what is now an urbanised settlement from a rural society within the context of China.
This solo exhibition will delve into the painting experiments of Appearance of Crosses, however will explore new techniques of woodcut and works on paper on an intimate scale. The paintings are normally referenced and evocative of rattan, mats, tartan, QR Codes, mathematical symbols and crucifixes, appearing overly symbolic and stultified. However, of all the interpretations, Ding’s intention and interests are not within connotations made from the audience. The visual order provides Ding’s work with a veil of mystery, which drives the passion and thirst for an understanding of contemporary abstract art. Although it may seem extremely simple, there is a richness and exigency implied beneath the surface. The viewer is to remove any presumed associations or interpretation and instead be more present in the act of seeing. Ding’s oeuvre has led to his trademark crosses and has ensured that these symbols will be constantly expanded and developed in the future.