This interview was conducted at Ding Yi's studio in Shanghai on 26 November 2008. For more information visit the Materials of the Future website.


Ding Yi (b. 1962, Shanghai) is an artist and has been a professor at the Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts at Fudan University since 2005.

Between 1980 and 1983, Ding was enrolled at the Shanghai College of Arts and Crafts, an important art school in Shanghai at the time. Other noteworthy members of this school include Yu Youhan, Chen Zhen and Wang Ziwei to name a few.

After graduating, Ding became a designer in the Number 12 Toy Factory in Shanghai, and he began to experiment with abstract oil paintings. In 1986, Ding exhibited his work at the first ‘Concave-Convex' exhibition, one of the first showcases for experimental art in Shanghai. In 1988, Ding began to use an abstract pattern of crosses in his paintings, which later developed into his celebrated series Appearance of Crosses.

Ding continues to paint and exhibit widely, both internationally and in China. Most recently, his work appeared in a group show called ‘Shanghai’ held at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum (2010).






In 2006, Asia Art Archive began a focused archiving project called 'Materials of the Future: Documenting Contemporary Chinese Art from 1980-1990'. This project aimed at developing a comprehensive collection of primary research materials including books, periodicals, newspapers, exhibition brochures, invitations, video recordings, correspondence, and other relevant documents. 

As part of this project, AAA digitised more than 80,000 items of material from personal archives to include artists Mao Xuhui, Wu Shanzhuan, Zhang Xiaogang, and Zhang Peili; curators and critics Fei Dawei, Lu Peng, and Zheng Shengtian; as well as the archives of Tokyo Art Gallery. As part of the research process over 75 in-depth interviews with key artists, curators, and critics were conducted. From a portion of these interviews, AAA created a documentary film about experimental art in South China (Guangzhou) in the 1980s entitled From Jean-Paul Sartre to Teresa Teng: Contemporary Cantonese Art in the 1980s.

AAA’s 1980s archiving project culminated with the launch of a comprehensive website portal called in September 2010.

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Interview: Ding Yi (English subtitles)