In his collection, Moments Unchained, the artist Yu Ji vividly portrays scenes of contemporary urban life. Ji’s collection, currently exhibited at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, includes 48 paintings and drawings.
“In my paintings, I attempt to present these moments that I have experienced in life,” said Ji. “These moments are not necessarily realistic in reality, but truthful to my impressions and feelings as I perceived from an interaction with nature, people or society.”
Ji’s work reflects his talent for capturing “moments” of everyday urban life. Ji said he achieves this by making quick sketches. “The inside studio drawings often concentrate on objects posed by the artist,” said Ji, “but sketches done outside of studios must be conducted in a swift manner, or rapidly, in order to capture the very particular facial expression or body gestures.”
Ji, who currently holds a professorship in life drawing and painting at California State University in Long Beach, has made sketches in Long Beach, Los Angeles and New York City. Much of his work depicts the coexistence of racially mixed groups of people.
“New York City is where I went for my post-graduate school. It is a place where all kinds of people with different racial and ethnic backgrounds get together,” Ji said. “I began my sketchbook studies there and I personally feel being a part of it.”
A native of China, Ji spent part of his youth laboring in a remote mountain village. He studied privately with some of China’s most respected painters during Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1967-1976).
After the Cultural Revolution, Ji studied drawing and painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. In 1983, Ji came to the United States where he received graduate degrees in painting (1986) and printmaking (1989) at the State University of New York at Paltz.
Moments Unchained can be viewed through November 15 in the Founder's Hall Art Gallery at Soka Universtiy. The gallery is open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Admission is free to the public.