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Yan Pei-Ming (b. 1960)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Yan Pei-Ming (b. 1960)

Tête de Bouddha Rouge

Details
Yan Pei-Ming (b. 1960)
Tête de Bouddha Rouge
signed in English and Chinese, titled and dated '"Tête de Bouddha Rouge" 05.2001 Yan Pei-Ming' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
98 3/8 x 98 3/8in. (250 x 250cm.)
Painted in May 2001
Provenance
Bernier-Eliades Gallery, Athens (acquired directly from the artist). Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium

Lot Essay

Dijon-based artist Yan Pei Ming has almost never painted backgrounds in his portrait paintings, focusing all his attention instead on his chosen subjects' features. During his youth in Shanghai, Yan painted images of workers and peasants, subjects in-keeping with the political climate of the times. His earliest aspirations as an artist were to become a professional painter for a film studio so he could paint images of movie stars.
In many ways, Yan's monolithic and expressionist portraits maintain a certain fascination with star power. In a body of work spanning nearly 30 years, Yan displays a tireless investigation into the mysterious power of icons, be they cultural, religious and political. His preferred subjects include such figures as Bruce Lee, Mao Zedong, and Pope John Paul. But he has also given equal attention to anonymous disaster victims, self-portraits, and portraits of his father carried out in the last year of his life, and even these figures serve as icons embodying near universal aspects of the human condition.
In his deeply moody, monochromatic portraits, Yan reveals the pathos of the human condition, the simultaneous capacity for grandeur and fragility.
Despite having spent most of his career to date in Europe, Yan's technique remains deeply rooted in distinct Chinese sensibilities. Yan uses extraordinarily long and broad brushes - some of them 20 or even 50 inches wide - and a minimum number of brushstrokes for his works. This technique has parallels with traditional Chan or Zen Buddhist painters and calligraphers who similarly employed extremely large brushes in order to liberate themselves creatively and circumvent their own conscious self. His paintings, as a result, are anything but precious. Rather they are muscular in their brushwork and the figures are almost sculptural in their presence, a voluminousness that is in dynamic tension with the evident mortality of the subjects.
This tension is especially poignant in Yan's extraordinary and rare 2001 painting, Tête de Bouddha. This magnificent painting depicts a close-up view of a meditating Buddhist figure, replete with pendulous ears (signifying wisdom) and the cranial "bump" (signifying the achievement of enlightenment). Unlike his more typical palette of black and white, Tête de Bouddha is painted in a hopeful, life-giving red. Painted in bold, slashing strokes, the slight imperfections in the figure's features imply a living, breathing being. Representing the Buddha as such, Yan has brought this image down to earth, giving him human form, and rendering the quest for enlightenment and wisdom a concern facing all of humanity. Of all of Yan's portraits, Tête de Bouddha, is a uniquely philosophical piece, one where Yan's existential concerns find a perfectly symbiotic relationship between subject and form.
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