“I wanted viewers to come up close to my works, so that the moving line would also move something in them.”

Born 1968, Xiangfan, Hubei. Lives and works in Beijing.

The titles of Du Jie’s works are as modest and unshowy as the works themselves. Each consists of a colour and a pair of dates. The colour is that of the monochromatic background; the dates record the interval between the day her fine brush starts drawing a line on that background, and the day the same line joins up with itself. Even after long, close inspection of Du Jie’s tiny canvases, it is hard to believe that the intricate pattern twisting and turning its way around every square millimetre consists of a single loop. For many viewers, it’s just as hard to believe that the maker of such tranquil, meditative abstractions is married to Liu Haizhou. Du Jie says her style evolved from childhood doodling, in which “The line mirrored a deep feeling of harmony and freedom inside of me, a desire for tranquillity and concentration, but also for perfection.” Continuing her line while ensuring that its convulsions never overlap is almost relaxing, she adds: “The technique is so familiar to me that it hardly takes any effort any more.” Many awed viewers find that, too, hard to believe.

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