Chinese Artist Ding Yi Finds Inspiration in Buddhist Philosophy and the Game of ‘Go’ — Watch Him Explain His Iridescent New Art Here

"Ding Yi: Lightscapes" is currently on view at New York's Timothy Taylor.

Ding Yi, Appearance of Crosses 2021-5 (2021). Courtesy of Timothy Taylor.

Since the mid-1980s, Chinese artist Ding Yi has crafted a distinctive visual language centered around crosses and grids. His often colorful abstractions consider the rise of Shanghai as a global metropolis and the radiance of the city’s neon lights. 

Right now, Timothy Taylor is presenting “Lightscapes,” a solo exhibition of Ding’s latest works featuring three paintings and six drawings. (The works are simultaneously presented in the Frieze Viewing Room.)

The paintings represent an important new development for Ding: In order to create them, the artist layered colors of paint and then cut intricate dot-like crevices into the wood with a fine blade. The resulting images give the impression of shifting, glistening lights in shades of vibrant vermilion, magenta, lime green, and acid yellow. 

Installation view "Ding Yi: Lightscapes" (2021). Courtesy of Timothy Taylor.

Installation view “Ding Yi: Lightscapes” (2021). Courtesy of Timothy Taylor.

In conjunction with the new exhibition, the artist sat with curator Alexandra Munroe for an interview. “There are systems of thought and perspective that can shake our idea of a monolithic culture, and Ding Yi’s work is critical to this conversation. It has an insight that is unique, a sublime space and an emotion beneath the abstraction,” Munroe notes.

The discussion between artist and curator is wide-ranging. They talk about the changing role of Chinese art in the global sphere, the thirty-five years he’s worked on “Appearances of Crosses,” and why his approach to painting is similar to the board game Go. 

Watch the interview between Ding and Munroe below.

“Ding Yi: Lightscapes” is on view at Timothy Taylor through June 12, 2021.


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