Ji Dachun's paintings give viewers a strong sense of eccentric, eerie tension. That kind of impression is derived partly from his humorous juxtaposition of unexpected elements that define his unique artistic style. By positioning his figures to the very centre of the canvas, the figures are shrunk to lead us away from the realistic present, leaving his canvas largely empty. Ji dyes these areas with a thin, light layer of coffee, tea or ink, to cast a gloomy atmosphere to the composition by rubbing pencils or coal across the surface, and to portray his imageries in a poetic visual atmosphere reminiscent to ancient Chinese paintings. Cartoon-like figures, quirky elements and delicate brushstrokes endow Ji Dachun's paintings with an inviting attraction. They look plain and neat, yet the hidden insinuations behind the images lure the spectators to linger on the canvas.
Picasso's works had brought Ji Dachun tremendous creative inspiration during his years as a student. Hence images of Picasso always appear in Ji's creations. Picasso (Lot 1563) depicts three Picassos wearing Manchurian riding jackets and skullcaps. The bodies of the figures are veiled beneath an irregular patch of brown colour, creating an illusion of the three figures floating above a cloud. But their serious facial expressions and exaggerated gestures are in fact a staged performance in this illusory space that Ji created, as the figures point their authority towards no one. With this contradiction, Ji creates a picture of profound satirical flavor.
In Scholar's Stone (Lot 1564) Ji Dachun depicts a Lake Tai rock, a symbol of the Chinese literati spirit. In antiquity, cultivated gentlemen stressed on the appreciation of the "texture, leanness, opening and translucence" of the rock, as they represented a miniature of the cosmos and the grandeur of nature. But Ji's scholar's rock is neither abstract nor naturalistic. Rather, it is a stretched out, deformed scholar's rock defined in graphite and mixed media. Although the rock evokes classical poeticism, the form differs from our existing impression of scholarly stones. By using symbolic elements from tradition, Ji bends the rules on prevailing concepts by using modern approaches and imbues his images with an ambiguous mockery.
Traditional Chinese men are also one of Ji's favorite symbols. In A Chinese Man (Lot 1608) the prosaic and oblivious protagonist stands against the vast expanse of white space evoking a sense of reluctance and desolation. Ji once stated: "It is fine to paint objects without content, yet it is wrong to speak of an object of absolute emptiness. What is important is the accuracy of the process and knowing when to end. For a viewer, the painting should reflect however much the artist feels, and this feeling is generally not of delight but rather one of desolate nature." Ji imbues his paintings with a secular view of the world, as the figures in his paintings can represent any one of us, and the images become a portrait of our minds if we engage ourselves in Ji's creations.
Viewing from the title, Liu Dehua (Lot 1771) may seem to depict an image of an idol or superstar, however, the figure in fact does not portray the popular idol. Illustrated in multiple colours, the clown-like attire of the figure in fact clothes a figure that is stiff in gestures and reserved in expressions. It is the conflict between the title and the content of the painting that the artist ignites our imagination and diversified thinking. Where viewers are used to clues to interpret stories and analogies, Ji uses unrelated elements to stress on the "painterliness" of the painting itself and its pure humour.