Focus on the Chinese painter: Yan Pei Ming

The artist Yan Pei Ming was born in Shanghai in 1960 and arrived in Dijon at the age of 20 in 1980, where he joined the Academy of Fine Arts. The painter is famous for his felt-tip portraits of Mao Zedong. He passionately expresses the characteristics of his models, describing the practice of painting as "an attack, a determination that is spiritual and moral, but also crucial".


The artist Yan Pei Ming studied at the National School of Fine Arts in Paris from 1988 to 1989. From 1993 to 1994, he was a resident of the Villa Medici of the Faculty of Law in Rome.Yan Pei Ming has struggled with the so-called modern imagery in painting methods. He likes to challenge the material (paint), the performance is physical even moving, he uses nourishing gestures with brooms and huge brushes to fight the blank canvas. He beats and whips the canvas in a personal and tense choreography. The size of the painting and the energy released make the effect magnificent.

His works

Yan Pei Ming handles large and super large formats. With a large brush he can create saturations of black, white, grey and sometimes red. He mainly studies survivors, wars and the dead. He paints faces in close-up and makes robot portraits, the portrait of Chairman Mao, the portrait of his father, of Bruce Lee, self-portrait, anonymous, skull. Yan Pei Ming is the first and the most important. Portraitists interested in current affairs: he therefore paints Bernard Madoff, the swindling financier, Dominique de Villepin, the former Prime Minister, the comedian Kluchy, the American President Barack Obama, and Senator John McCain (Fiac 2008). Since 2000, he has devoted himself to sculpture, cutting with a knife and painting a head in red resin. Since 2006, he has also been doing watercolours.

His creative skills

The reduction of the colour palette (from black to white, grey or even vermilion, the lucky colour), serves perfectly a « mise en abîme » of the pictorial touch. The spontaneous bad gestures, the trickling water, the repentance and even the excitement of Chinese academic painting, all have the sole function of making the motif float and removing all weight. Whether it is a portrait of Mao Zedong, Bruce Lee or his blind uncle, a young Sudanese man or a series of self-portraits, the artist Yan Pei Ming mainly paints portraits. He used a large brush to paint fictitious anonymous portraits or prototypes of characters, such as the portrait of Mao Zedong that disturbed the painter's portrait. This stereotypical image shows a person less than the supposed ideal of the father and the iconic figure of the Middle Kingdom. The brushstrokes make the portrait of the anonymous man more vague and personal, instead turning the symbol of the Chinese leader into a model and a prototype. Yan Pei Ming is concerned with questions of identity, the familiar and the similar.
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