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  • Provenance

    Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels

  • Catalogue Essay

    Violence, death and identity are familiar tropes in the work of the Shanghai-born French painter Yan Pei-ming. His portraits feature overwhelmingly sized depictions of Mao Zedong, Bruce Lee, and the Pope, as well as victims of crime and war and "invisible men." Yan's "invisible men" are perhaps the most mesmerizing to the imagination: unlike politicians and celebrities, we know nothing and must concoct everything about these lavishly painted, anonymous faces. Like unwitting voyeurs, we are flooded with intense details of their eyes and expressions made whole through the artist's virtuoso brushwork.
    Yan Pei-ming: I see (my subjects) from the point of view of trying to feel what they are like. That is why I have always worked on portraits of people who are very much workers, peasants, and the like. For years I worked in the evenings doing portraits at Shanghai station. All the trains in Shanghai station mean people waiting for a train... So I would go down to the station and ask the people who interested me if they would sit for their portrait. They wouldn't usually be doing much, they'd be reading or talking, or just sitting around. I did that from the age of 13 until the age of almost 19...
    Rolf Lauter: So one could say there are two realities in the portraits you do: the visible and the psychological reality, the soul.
    YPM: Yes, I think the majority of painters today avoid the issue of feeling and of soul. But I paint with soul and with feeling. I think this is very important for painting and for humankind...
    RL: In your portraits I always see the eyes first. Not that I don't see their material properties, their palette and texture, their stylistic features – there is clearly a Ming style – but I see the eyes first of all. Why?
    YPM: When people cry, it is their eyes that are in tears. You can't say that people shed tears from their mind. Even blind people weep tears from their eyes. The eyes are the key to human feelings. You can read things in people's eyes – he's sad because he's got red eyes, they're tired, and so on. There is nothing worse than blindness... Through the eyes you can see the person behind.(P. Yan, ‘Studio Discussion' in The Way of the Dragon, Heidelberg 2005, p. 101 – 102)
     

205

Homme Invisible

2000
Oil on canvas.
200 x 180 cm. (78 3/4 x 70 7/8 in).
Signed, titled and dated ‘"Homme invisible" 29.08.2000 Yan Pei-Ming [in Chinese and Pinyin]' on the reverse.

Estimate
£250,000 - 350,000 

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

29 June 2008, 5pm
London