Lot 24
  • 24

Yan Peiming

150,000 - 250,000 USD
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  • Yan Pei-Ming
  • Tête d'Homme
  • signed in Pinyin and dated 1988 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas

  • 78 3/4 by 78 3/4 in. 200 by 200 cm.


Private Collection, London
Private Collection, Taipei

Catalogue Note

Yan Peiming was born in Shanghai in 1960.  After studying at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, he remained in France from the early 1980s.  Yan’s early studies of pale, distorted nude forms gave way after 1987 to monumental works on canvas depicting human figures or landscapes and rendered with expressionist brushwork in pared-down chromatic ranges.  He has pursued this distinctive practice with a single-mindedness that has made his work instantly recognizable and justifiably celebrated.

At a close distance, the tactility of paint and sparse use of colors within a single chromatic range lend Yan’s works a predominantly abstract quality.  Viewed from afar, however, the dominating viscerality of the paintwork gives way to an overall figurative violence, expressed in the compositional topography that defines these painterly monuments as faces, heads, or scenes.  In Yan’s oeuvre, categorical notions of identity are constantly challenged through the interplay of figuration and disfigurement.  Yan’s repertoire of subjects ranges from iconic figures of our time – the Pope, Mao, Bruce Lee, the Buddha – to self-portraits, portraits of his father and ambiguous studies of the human form, most notably the head.  

In Tête D'Homme from 1988, the human head – stronghold of reason and intellect – is not only stylistically effaced but also imbued with a distinctly bestial quality, an ambivalent exploration of the raw materiality of both paint and flesh.  Tête d’Homme is a characteristic early work, a harbinger of the path the artist would consistently pursue in the decades to come.