Yan Pei-Ming, In the name of the father - Musée Unterlinden de Colmar
Holy cow! A Perfect Day, 2012, Triptych, oil on canvas, 400 × 280 cm - Private collection, France. Photograph: Clérin-Morin © Yan Pei-Ming, ADAGP, Paris, 2021
The Musée Unterlinden in Colmar is devoting a quasi-retrospective to the artist Yan Pei-Ming, a painter known worldwide for his monumental, essentially monochrome portraits. The exhibition was prompted by a meeting in 2012 between Frédérique Goerig-Hergott, the museum's chief curator, and the artist's triptych Nom d'un chien! A perfect day. This self-portrait, painted full-length, with arms outstretched and palms outstretched, inevitably sounds like a contemporary reinterpretation of Matthias Grünenwald's famous Issenheim Altarpiece. But the exhibition Yan Pei-Ming, In the Name of the Father retraces above all the history of his work through his own history with some fifty large paintings and a dozen drawings and watercolours.
From portraits to self-portraits, the exhibition evokes the painter's relationship with his origins, his training, his history and his arrival in France. Parentage is at the centre of his work, whether it takes the form of his own father or that of Mao, the father figure of an entire people, the omnipresent image of authority and the sacred. The sacred and sacrifice are recurring themes for Yan Pei-Ming, as evidenced by the impressive Pandemic that closes the exhibition.
This painting, more than five metres long and four metres high, was created in November 2020 during the confinement and at the request of Frédérique Goerig-Hergott, the Museum's Chief Curator. It is a self-portrait of the artist in the form of a huge diptych in which he depicts himself in the foreground, wearing a suit and mask, at the foot of a corpse in a huge mass grave located outside a contemporary city.
The artist depicts a twilight world that expresses injustice, anguish and sadness. A world devastated by pandemic, like the ergot disease, a 16th century epidemic depicted by Matthias Grünenwald five centuries earlier. But in the distance, on the left, the representation of the Vatican, source of light and hope of redemption!
Yan Pei-Ming, In the Name of the Father is an autobiographical and collective experience that we hope to discover before 6 September.
Yan Pei-Ming was born in 1960 in Shanghai in the middle of the Cultural Revolution. He left China for France in 1980 and studied at the Dijon School of Fine Arts. Ten years later, he adopted French nationality. Yan Pey-Ming lives and works in Dijon.