Abstract painter reveals 'journey of arts' to young students

Yang Jian
Shanghai's famous abstract painter Ding Yi gave a lesson to downtown students on fine arts over the weekend as part of the nation's "double reduction" education reforms.
Yang Jian
Abstract painter reveals 'journey of arts' to young students
Ti Gong

Ding Yi gives a lesson to students of a middle school in Xuhui.

Shanghai's famous abstract painter Ding Yi gave a lesson to downtown students on fine arts over the weekend as part of the nation's "double reduction" education reforms.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Education issued a series of "double reduction" policies in order to ease excessive homework and off-campus tutoring for primary and middle school students. They are encouraged to become more involved in sports and extracurricular activities.

Ding, whose works have been shown at the 45th Venice Biennale (1993) and leading galleries around the world, shared the topic "The journey of fine arts" with students and teachers at Zizhuyuan Middle School in Xuhui District.

"I always believe in the 'significant form,' which is the artist's arrangement of lines, colors and patterns," Ding said.

Significant form refers to an aesthetic theory developed by English art critic Clive Bell which specified a set of criteria for what qualified as a work of art.

He reviewed the history of the world's fine arts development and explained classic paintings from the Lascaux Grotto dating back some 17,000 years ago to artworks by Michelangelo and Piet Mondrian.

"Every round of changes in the history of arts involved the retrospect from the past and innovation to the future," Ding said.

Born in 1961 in Shanghai, Ding graduated from Shanghai Arts and Crafts Institute in 1983 and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Shanghai University in 1990.

He is famous for his "Appearance of Crosses" series by working primarily with "+" and its variant "x" as formal visual signals, above and against the political and social allegories typical of painting in China.

Since the late 1980s, Ding's exploration of the signs of "crosses" appears throughout his artistic work.

Abstract painter reveals 'journey of arts' to young students
Ti Gong

Ding comments on the painting of a student.

In the class, he divided his more than three decades of artistic work into three phrases – "Look straight, down and up." Between 1988 and 1998, Ding said he focused on the straight angle without perspective in his paintings.

Through 2010, he was determined to showcase the rapid development of Chinese cities, especially Shanghai with strong colors and light.

Now, he began reconsidering the price of urbanization and involved the thinking in his latest art creations.

Ding commented on the paintings of the students and guided their future development.

"The most important meaning of painting is to touch the audience, no matter abstract or concrete," Ding told the students.

It was one of the "Masters' Lessons" initiated by the publicity department of the Xuhui District government to implement the "double reduction" policy.

The first batch of eight lessons will be given at downtown elementary and middle schools through the end of the year.

Other renowned artists will include pipa (Chinese lute) master Tang Liangxing, Wang Jiajun, Shanghai Dance Theater's principle dancer, celebrated dancing artist Huang Doudou and Di Feifei, renowned movie dubber.

Each master is invited to give lessons to the schools with relevant specialty classes. The special lessons will be aired to more than 80,000 downtown students.

Abstract painter reveals 'journey of arts' to young students
Ti Gong

Ding explains his "Appearance of Crosses" series.

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