Born in Shanghai, 1962, Ding Yi is an artist with a distinguished style in the Chinese contemporary art world. In the early 90s, his representational works prevailed among the Chinese avant-gardes, drawing attention from the international art world with styles like "Political Pop" and "Cynical Realism". In this atmosphere of seeking new ideas and exposing emotions, Ding Yi's clear and concise painting became an unique artistic pattern. In the year 1988, Ding Yi started to create the first work of his Appearance of Crosses series. The title, "Cross" as "Shi Shi" in Chinese, was originally a term from press printing indicating the lines which mark the boundaries of a page. Thus, in Ding's mind, it suggested the sense of preciseness. He abandoned all the methods of representation and threw himself into the continuous process of replicating standardized cross patterns, by painting the basic short lines as starting-points in an extremely consistent style to create a full picture. In this way, his works were known for their plane and patterned style. Although embracing an obviously abstract sense, his works were different from the abstractionism which usually applies the irregular brushstrokes in creation. Rather, the Appearance of Crosses is an expression of pure reason with the constraint and diminishment of emotions. Ding Yi's works contain harmony, depth and the change of vertical and horizontal being pure and fascinating. He is regarded as the vanguard of the Chinese contemporary abstractionism.
The significance of classical painting is challenged by Ding Yi's style in the Appearance of Crosses. We can't find any story-telling or narrations, nor can we feel any religious, politics or personal memories in his works. The artistic skill of the brushstrokes is not his main focus. The paintings are without traces of expression and detailing, it never meant to reflect the artist's passion nor emotional turmoil. Those intensive and sophisticated brushstrokes carrying not a single superficial message which invoke the audience to contemplate on the process of creating the paintings, such creation requires the artist's concentration and ability to control, along with his supreme patience in overcoming the tiresome of relentless repeat. Thus, the audience's attention is drawn to the artist rather than the painting, as a result to emphasizing the artist's existence as an entity. Ding fulfills himself in painting the Appearance of Crosses as a spiritual practice, so that he can embraces himself in his artistic creation.
From an Appearance of Crosses (Lot 1479) painted on paper in 1995, we can see Ding's meticulous applying of colors. His ingenious arrangement of brushstrokes in all kinds of colors interacting with each other creates a visual stimulation. Created in the following year, the Appearance of Crosses (Lot 1573) painted on canvas produces a different pattern effect with another kind of arrangement of lines. The intricate brushstrokes disappearing on the edges expose the canvas and create a sense of nature. Appearance of Crosses, Red (Lot 1572) is visually shocking with its vivid red background, on which countless little white crosses akin to Christ's cross. Understanding the "cross" along with Ding's painstaking process in creation, the Appearance of Crosses seems to echoes the western Christian spirit of pain, sacrifice and redemption. We can vaguely identify the squares array in different colors in the centre of the painting and that on the edge a yellow rectangle facet. Akin with Mark Rothko's profoundness of colors and planes, Ding's abstract works acquires the same power of invoking the audience's emotion of observing. Appearance of Crosses 2002-1 (Lot1478) looks like a visualized music world. Red, yellow, green crosses and asterisks like sounds from different instruments repeating their own regular melodies within a piece of music composed in a strict structure, echoing with other sounds in harmony. Symbols in various colors are variable, like the exhilarating varieties among chapters within a piece of music. Every tiny cross eventually gets together to form the great cross which accomplishes the painting. Perhaps, the abstract experience of appreciating music can only be transcending by the abstract forms of art. Ding is questing for change while at the same time keeping his calmness, reason and control. Over the years, Ding has been creating with repetitive subjects and method, not only it reflects on his ardent passion towards art and being truthful as an artist, but also expresses his quest for perfection. Perhaps in his eyes, only through extreme practice can we identify the original perfection of the world.