Yan Pei-Ming

Yan Pei-Ming is widely considered to be one of the most important Chinese artists of his generation. He was born in 1960 to a lower working class family in Shanghai, China. Yan grew up during the social upheavals of the Cultural Revolution, and due to his talent in art, was required to make posters of Mao Zedong and his Red Guards in propaganda classes. Rejected by the Shanghai Art and Design Academy due to his stutter, Yan moved to Dijon, France at the age of 19. He attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, graduating in 1986, and continues to live and work in France. Yan is inspired by the world around him: people he meets, literature and cinema, politics and stories he reads in the media. Working with big brushes and a monochromatic palette of black, red or white, he brings his subjects to life with expressive brush strokes, with the motif becoming more evident with distance. His most famous paintings are large-scale portraits of Mao Zedong, which he has executed since 1987. Other subjects include important religious, political and popular figures such as Barrack Obama, Buddha and Bruce Lee, as well as self-portraits, landscapes, animals, and historical paintings. Yan has had solo exhibitions in some of the most important international institutions, including the Centre Pompidou and Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, in addition to participating in the Venice Biennale (1995, 2003). From February to May 2009, his painting The Funeral of Mona Lisa was displayed in the Musée du Louvre beside Da Vinci’s original Mona Lisa. That same year, he was awarded the medal of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in recognition to his contributions to the art and culture of the country.