"A Series of Paintings Shown in Crosses" by Ding Yi

When Ding Rong (丁荣, in Chinese characters) was determined to be a painter he changed his full name into Ding Yi (丁乙 in 2 Chinese characters). He fells that the structure of the name "丁乙" is simpler from the vision that it by itself seems to be the sign of "the structure of vision".

Ding Rong thinks he is always interested comparatively in "the structure of vision". Originally, it was from an album of Maurice Utrillo that this kind of interest came to form. The landscape painter Utrillo who is not included in the "The Brief History of Modern Painting", however, makes young Ding Rong understand "the pure beauty of vision structure" shown in the Western painting language. From 1982 when he was 20 years old to 1985, he was addicted to learning both the layout structure of Utrillo's landscape's general appearance and the structure between colours, feeling deeply it was in the traditional Chinese painting that there wasn't that sort of serious formal pleasing quality.

Now Ding Rong has become Ding Yi, making up his mind to take a walk on the road of "research on the vision structure", and being more "thorough" and "revolutionary" than Utrillo in "research on the vision structure". 

Several paintings named " A Series of Paintings Shown in Crosses" were shown on "The Exhibition of Art for Today" 1988, Shanghai. There was almost no consideration to painting technique in these paintings, but merely rough emphasis on "the vision of structure": that is, the basic structure unit -- "cross shape" which was also supported by the basic " three primary colours of red, yellow and blue" bravely appeared in large size on the right front wall of the Shanghai Art Museum.

Ding Yi graduated from the Department of Traditional Chinese Painting, the Fine Arts Academy under Shanghai University in 1989. He once wrote a graduation paper entitled " On the Vision Factor Neglected in the Traditional Chinese Painting" in which was made a conclusion that you can't find that pure attention has been paid to the vision factor before in the traditional Chinese painting. Ambitious Ding Yi has begun with his purely scientific "basic research", on the basic vision elements, such as the structure colours etc. Seeing what he has begun is " basic research", "seriousness" and "accuracy" surely become the fundamental demand. He has put down a word:" My painting is as clear and well well-integrated as 1+1=2."

The first lot of "research results" were completely straight lines drawn mainly in ruling pen and T-square. So countless straight lines criss-crossed and were arranged and realigned on the canvas, forming a set of "A Series of Paintings Shown in Crosses" amid which so simple a spectrum analysis of "3 primary colours" because more complicated "red, orange, yellow, green, indigo blue, blue and violet". After that, again he moved toward the research on one tone after another.

After this kind of research continued for about 2 years, one day, he suddenly wrote another word:" Boundless forever is the accuracy on the general appearance." In his arduous experiment, Ding Yi realizes " the principle of no correct-measurement": So called accuracy can simply be a 

kind of work attitude," which is always a sort of profundity in reference and comparison on the general appearance" Therefore, T-square and ruling pen have been thrown away, his research has nothing to do with using "spray gun" and "computer" by which the more accurate level should have been obtained. Directly, he reaches the "top realm" in which he draws by bare-hand.

Meanwhile, he has also made "an important breakthrough" in colour research. Just like his throwing away the T-square, he has abandoned "subjective relations of colours", then he has innovated " the principle of selecting colours automatically" and put down a sonourous and forceful word:" I want to take the pigment as night soil collected."

Under a kind of spiritual " accuracy" and in the "voluntary" way, " A series of Paintings Shown in Crosses" have become experiments of various vision effects with crossshape, which in fact has turned into --shape because of oblique lines added, as its basic form.

Ding Yi's word becomes very simple as well:" There appears a bit of differences in each of my works."

In order to express his " pure scientific" attitude, Ding Yi only signed his experimental serial numbers on the backs of all his works in " A Series of Paintings Shown in Crosses." However, some main works were given different "pet name in his "laboratory".

The first painting which was drawn "by bare-hand" under "the principle of selecting colours automatically" was naturally entitle "Night Soil".

After he finished the "Night Soil", it was with a breakthrough in an exciting state of mind that he drew a painting of "Light Indigo Blue Love.".

Then, a set of " The Raindrops in the Fierce Wind", full of enthusiasm. After the "Raindrops" passed, came the "Skiing in the Mountains" in which you could feel the freely relaxed atmosphere in the clear sky.

"Skiing in the Mountains" was too relaxed, then came "Works Showing Models in Reverse" which were more difficult to paint.

Besides, he persisted in painting "Chinese Regular Script in Small and Middle Characters" which was simple, serious and purely black white

Certainly, the entitlement of all these "pet names", perhaps, only relied on "the effects of vision" which formed by chance form the experimental figures.

Ding Yi Said, "I don't like to overcome the factors which maybe form in the experiment of the general appearance and can't move the audience completely, at least, this is not very meaningful and reliable until a set of new vision language which makes a contribution to the art history is found."

His "basic research" seems to enter into the more and more sophisticated realm, in the "experiment", rational structure" which "Cross-shape" stands for is disappearing in the starlit sky which is confused and disorderly, full of emotional colouring.

However, he appears to have a stubborn idea: as a painter, he will never restore the name Ding Rong (丁荣), keeping Ding Yi (丁乙) forever.

Dec.22, 1992
Mar.1, 1993
Mar.7, 1993

Chinese Version: Bo Xiaobo
English Version: Zhao Zhengxin