Ding Yi studied decoration design at Shanghai Arts & Crafts Institute from 1980 to 1983 and then completed a B.F.A. degree at Fine Arts College of Shanghai University in 1990. He has been making abstract paintings using crosses and grids since the late 1980s. Yi perceives painting as an ideal form of reflection and retrospection. The majority of his works feature repetitions of the “+” sign, superimposed in different layers, colors, and rotations; the tiny, manually painted symbols cover the entire surface of large canvases, requiring a painstaking amount of precision and technical skill. While many of his contemporaries utilize iconographic and figurative references, Ding pursues a space devoid of meaning by using a simple visual motif. Although he rebels against cultural specificity, Ding’s works have been interpreted as an abstraction of the neon lights and brightly colored advertisements that permeate Asian metropolises, aerial views of city grids, and Chinese textiles. Indeed, the artist admits to being inspired by Shanghai as a Chinese city that he has witnessed the growth of for decades – a city as an emblem of modernity with a certain rhythm despite moments of chaos.