Born and raised in China during the Cultural Revolution, Yun-Fei Ji studied traditional Song Dynasty landscape painting techniques at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing. After relocating to the United States in 1986 on a Fullbright fellowship, Ji developed a practice that reinvents the system of symbolic structures found in classical Chinese painting to expose the dark side of industrial development on contemporary life. As Ji states, "I use landscape painting to explore the utopian dreams of Chinese history, from past collectivization to new consumerism."
Ji's work has been exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the United States and Europe, including the 2002 Whitney Biennial. His solo museum exhibition, The Empty City, 2004, originated at the Contemporary Art Museum (St. Louis) and toured to the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University and the Peeler Art Center at DePauw University. In 2004, the exhibition Yun-Fei Ji: The East Wind was organized at the ICA, University of Pennsylvania. In 2008, Displacement: The Three Gorges Dam and Contemporary Chinese Art, an exhibition of four Chinese artists, originated at the Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, IL and continues to tour nationally.
Ji has received numerous international honors, including American Academy Prix de Rome fellowship and residency; artist-in-residence at Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art London; and artist-in-residence at Yale University, where he conducted extensive research with the institution's scholars. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Ji is a Winifred Johnson Clive Foundation Distinguished Visiting Fellow for Interdisciplinary Painting Practices.