Join Yun-Fei Ji and KIA Chief Curator Rehema Barber on Thursday, June 17th at 6 PM EST for a conversation about Ji's life, work, and his solo exhibition, Yun-Fei Ji: Tall Tales of a Scavenger, on view at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts through September 5.
Yun-Fei Ji utilizes the structures and symbols of folkloric tradition to speak truth to power. Full of phantoms, demons, and other spectral characters, Ji's paintings have frequently functioned as metaphorical critiques of oppressive power structures and strategies of defiance. In his ink and watercolor compositions, these ghostly figures are stand-ins for the complex political undercurrents and cultural tug-of-war shaping rural communities in a rapidly developing world.
Ji is inspired by the ghost stories that he first learned growing up in the countryside during the late Chinese Cultural Revolution. He employs the stacked perspective and flattened space of classical Chinese painting to tell contemporary stories that, while geographically specific, speak to a collective human experience. The work often comments on political realities of both US and China, expressed in codes by using metaphor and allusion. There is a satirical streak, and his love of the grotesque is balanced with humor and a deep sense of irony. Each work is an act of resistance, insisting that narratives of displacement and environmental destruction are worth preserving.