Yun-Fei Ji. The Village and Its Ghosts (detail), 2014. Ink and watercolor on Xuan paper, Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York.
Yun-Fei Ji. The Village and Its Ghosts (detail), 2014. Ink and watercolor on Xuan paper, Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York.

“What a wonderful way to end the Yun-Fei Ji show,” proclaimed Wellin Museum of Art Director Tracy Adler as two articles, both celebrating Yun-Fei Ji: The Intimate Universe, appeared online during the final week of the exhibition. A stellar review titled Yun-Fei Ji’s Ghost Stories of the Living, was published on June 29 by Hyperallergic, and an artist interview, Yun-Fei Ji: ‘I’m pessimistic about China’, debuted on June 26 in Studio International.

Hyperallergic reviewer Danni Shen described Ji’s art as “Subverting the classical idealism of Chinese landscape painting,” and Ji as a “storyteller who navigates the contemporary realities of survival. His visual narratives represent the fraught negotiations of human life today, when rapidly industrializing countries such as the People’s Republic of China continue to develop despite ecological and social upheaval.” Shen noted that “Ji’s figures accordingly warn us against the exploitation of nature and the forces that sweep away human communities in a blink. In a way, his works become a bulwark against the trauma of history. Ji renders each individual uniquely in an attempt to prevent them from becoming statistics, ghosts lost to the record books.”

Yun-Fei Ji was interviewed for the article in Studio International, a leading online art journal that began as a print journal in 1890. When asked about his concern about the environmental disruptions in China and the effect of the Three Gorges hydroelectric dam project’s effect, Ji replied. “I made a trip to the Three Gorges area in 2002 when they were building the dam. It was supposed to be for flood control, to generate needed power, and to improve navigation on the Yangtze but the government didn’t talk about how it would affect lives. The region was still being cleared out when I went – buildings in the process of demolition, debris everywhere, moving people out, resettling them.”

He continued to discuss how his experiences affected his work, “I started interviewing people, writing down their stories and trying to learn how such a thing could happen. It was mindboggling that 1.5 million people had to be resettled, many moved thousands of miles away” In describing how he works now, he replied, “I now write my own stories, often triggered by something in the news, as well as using stories from literature.”

Yun-Fei Ji: The Intimate Universe will travel to the Honolulu Museum of Art, where it will be on view from Sept. 29 to Feb. 5, 2017.

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