Yan Lei - Contemporary Art London Thursday, June 21, 2007 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    Private collection, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    Yan Lei was born in Hebei in 1965 and graduated from the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts’ printmaking department. After a stint in Hong Kong, he now lives and works in Beijing. Perhaps one of the most intellectual Chinese artists working today, his work is defiantly self-referential and subversive, finding no stable ground. The art world is often the unwilling subject of his barbs: together with fellow artist Hong Hao, he planted a now-notorious hoax in which the two artists sent numerous fake invitations to Documenta 1997 to other Chinese artists who, for the most part, fell all too eagerly into his trap. The present lot, Shanghai Welcomes Yan Lei, recalls a “work” that Yan contributed to a group show at the Shanghai Art Museum. He hung an oversized banner proclaiming “Shanghai Welcomes Yan Lei” over the gallery’s entrance, provoking the other participants who were alternately amused and incensed.

    Yan regards painting as a type of philosophical method in itself that destabilizes the subject while creating the alternate reality of the artwork. In this context, “Shanghai Welcomes Yan Lei” is the ultimate joke played on itself. The work refers to an imaginary event dreamed up by the artist—Shanghai celebrating his approach with open arms—that he had previously made “real” by virtue of his artwork in the form of the “fake” banner. The artist’s technique, which appears realistic from a distance, is harshly blurred on closer inspection— a telling dichotomy of Yan’s attitude towards reality and representation.

    “While looking for a kind of proper method, Yan Lei has already realised the revolutionary meaning of the artistic expression explanation standardisation over painting. This meaning is embodied in the fact that when a kind of technology arises, practice shows not recognising one's own relatives. At this moment, painting is not merely the possibility of a kind of personal performance, but also the level, rational and procedural making. Its internality, share degree and universal application make it more perfect and no fault can be found. Painting is not painting itself, but a reason for making and is easier for production and fashion.” (W. Ai, Super Lights exh. cat., Galerie Urs Meile, Lucerne, 2005).


Shanghai Welcomes Yan Lei

Oil on canvas.
55 1/8 x 81 3/4 in. (140 x 207.6 cm).
Signed "Yan Lei [in Chinese] 2000" lower right.

£20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for £21,600

Contemporary Art

22 June 2007, 4pm & 5pm