YUN-FEI JI: Looking for Lehman Brothers
Feb 03, 2017 — May 06, 2017
Yun-Fei Ji is a Chinese-American painter based in Ohio and New York. Growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution, Ji spent some of his earliest years on a collective farm outside Hangzhou where, in the absence of TV and radio, he was entertained by his grandmother’s and other locals’ telling of ghost stories and folk tales.
Ji is a critically-acclaimed contemporary artist. His recent exhibitions include Yun-Fei Ji: Water Work at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing in 2012; the Prospect 3 New Orleans triennial in 2014-2015; Ji Yun-Fei: Last Days of Village Wen at the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2016; and Yun-Fei Ji: The Intimate Universe organized by the Wellin Museum of Art which toured to the Honolulu Museum of Art in 2016-2017. Presently his work is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in the survey exhibition Show and Tell: Stories in Chinese Painting.
Ji is well-known for revivifying the traditional brush-and-ink painting methods associated with earlier periods of Chinese art, including literati landscape painting of the Song Dynasty. He seemingly combines these methods with elements of Western art—the production of the Dada artists Otto Dix and George Grosz, for example, and earlier masters such as Francisco Goya, Hieronymus Bosch, and Martin Schongauer.
As an artist Ji consistently aims to develop a visual language capable of addressing contemporary global events including the pressing issues of environmental crisis, geographical displacement, and the re-making of place. Yun-Fei Ji: Looking for Lehman Brothers features paintings created between 2007 and 2008, including his iconic hand scroll The Three Gorges Dam Migration (2008). In addition to this signature work, the exhibition highlights a suite of paintings and sketches that grapple with the devastation and aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina. These last works by Ji establish parallels between the scope of the great financial collapse of 2008 and Katrina three years earlier, with the focus persistently falling on the lives of ordinary people affected by large-scale crises.
Dr. Christopher Bennett
Guest Curator and UL Lafayette Department of Visual Arts Faculty
Yun-Fei Ji: Looking for Lehman Brothers has been generously supported by the Department of Visual Arts and College of the Arts at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the Friends of the Humanities. Artworks courtesy of James Cohan Gallery, New York.