YUN-FEI JI | Masked Dance

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Masked Dance, 2019
Ink and watercolor on Xuan paper
Signed on verso Yun-Fei Ji 2019 in ink on tape
35.5 x 28.75 x 1.25 in. (framed) 28.125 x 22.25 in (unframed)


The Artist
Zeno X, 2019
James Cohan, New York, 2020

Yun-Fei Ji has employed the stacked perspective and flattened space of classical Chinese painting throughout his career, reinvigorating it as a means of contemporary storytelling. His paintings are acts of resistance, insisting that these stories of human and environmental struggles are worth telling.

Yun-Fei Ji was raised in China during the Cultural Revolution. Separated from his parents at the age of two, Ji grew up on a collective farm outside Hangzhou where, in the absence of TV and radio, he was kept entertained by his grandmother’s telling of ghost stories and folk tales. At the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, Ji studied traditional painting techniques with mineral pigments on mulberry paper in the style of Song Dynasty landscape painting. After relocating to the United States in 1986 on a fellowship from Fulbright College at the University of Arkansas, Ji found his voice as an artist who reinvents the system of symbolic structures found in classical Chinese painting to expose the dark side of industrial development on contemporary life. As Ji states, “I use landscape painting to explore the utopian dreams of Chinese history, from past collectivization to new consumerism.”

Yun-Fei Ji was born in 1963 in Beijing, China. He earned his BFA from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing and his MFA from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in Fayetteville, Arkansas. In 2005, Ji was Artist-in-residence at Yale University where he conducted extensive research with the institution’s scholars. He received the 2006 American Academy Prix de Rome Fellowship and Residency and was the 2007 Artist-in-residence at the Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art in London. Ji has been the subject of solo museum exhibitions at the Cleveland Museum of Art, OH; The Paul and Lulu Hilliard Museum of Art, University of Louisiana, Lafayette, LA; The University Museum of Contemporary Art, UMASS Amherst, MA; Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis; the Rose Museum at Brandeis University, Waltham; the Peeler Art Center, DePauw University, Greencastle; the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China; the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art, Hamilton College, Clinton; and the Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu.

Ji’s work has been widely exhibited throughout the United States and Europe, including the 2002 Whitney Biennial, the 2011 Lyon Biennale, and the 2012 Biennale of Sydney. In 2008, his work was featured in Displacement: the Three Gorges Dam and Contemporary Chinese Art, an exhibition of four Chinese artists which originated at the Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, Illinois, and toured nationally. In 2014, Ji presented a new monumental scroll for the Prospect.3 New Orleans Triennial, curated by Franklin Sirmans. Later that year, his work was included in the group exhibition Unscrolled: Reframing Tradition in Chinese Contemporary Art at the Vancouver Art Gallery. His work has been featured in publications including The New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, Modern Painters, and Artforum, and is included in major public collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn. Yun-Fei Ji currently lives and works in New Jersey.