Ding Yi - New Now Hong Kong Friday, March 29, 2024 | Phillips
  • “The grids and crosses were first used as a way to express myself in a free but orderly way—as an escape from oppressive social standards—but now they have become my unique artistic language that help me to go deeper into the painting.”
    — Ding Yi


    Born 1962 in Shanghai, Ding Yi is considered a pioneer in abstract art in China. Over the past decades, the artist has gained recognition in the art world for his signature style, which typically involves the use of crosses and grids. These recurring motifs which Ding has been implementing as part of his practice since the late 1980s, either in the form of "+" or "x", are meticulously rendered across his canvases.



    Detail of the present lot


    The present work hails from Ding Yi’s ‘Appearance of Crosses’ series, showcased at his solo exhibition Appearance of Crosses at Nova Contemporary in Thailand, 2020. The techniques used by Ding Yi involve a meticulous application of paint with rulers, tape, and drafting pens, giving the impression of mechanical printing and emphasising the high level of precision that makes his work distinctive. Despite the apparent simplicity of the motifs, there is a profound complexity in his paintings, with each work demanding extensive labour, often involving 15-hour days for six months at a time.


    Installation view of the present work (right) at Appearance of Crosses, 10 January – 14 March 2020, Nova Contemporary, Thailand.
    Image: Nova Contemporary 


    The artworks, while evocative of various objects and symbols like rattan, tartan, QR Codes, and crucifixes, are not intended to be symbolic interpretations from the viewer's perspective. The intense colour and dimensionality in Ding’s work, experimenting with both monochromatic and fluorescent tones, create geometric shapes that appear both minimalistic and complex. This paradox is central to his art where the simplicity of the motif contrasts with the intricacy of the overall painting. In the present work, the red colour is used in varying tones to offer a visual intensity that suggests universal humanism themes beyond the values associated with dominant cultures.


    Ding Yi's crosses are more than just a pattern; they are a meditation on urbanisation and the transformation of Chinese society. They invite the viewer to discard preconceived interpretations and to be fully present in the act of observing. His work is a continual expansion of his unique language in contemporary abstract art, promising the ongoing evolution of his trademark crosses. The acclaimed artist is having his solo exhibition Ding Yi: Homeland and Journey at Huamao Museum of Art Education and Ningbo Art Museum until March 2024.

    • Provenance

      Nova Contemporary, Bangkok
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Bangkok, Nova Contemporary, Appearance of Crosses, 10 January - 14 March 2020


Appearance of Crosses 2019-15

signed and dated 'Ding Yi 2019.' along the bottom right edge
mixed media on basswood
120 x 120 cm. (47 1/4 x 47 1/4 in.)
Executed in 2019.

Full Cataloguing

HK$700,000 - 1,000,000 

Sold for HK$1,016,000

Contact Specialist

Angela Tian
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now Sale
20th Century & Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
+852 2318 2058

New Now

Hong Kong Auction 29 March 2024