Yan Pei-Ming grew up during the Cultural Revolution in China and left Shanghai for France in 1980, where he studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Dijon. During the last 30 years he established himself as one of the most prominent artists, renowned for his impressive size portraits of key power figures from both the East and the West, from Mao Zedong and Barack Obama to Marylin Monroe and Alexander McQueen.
“I am honoured to be a part of the Massimo De Carlo Hong Kong gallery opening. Massimo is a dear friend and has always been very supportive of my career. ‘It Takes a Lifetime to Become Young’ is a new body of work featuring the masters that inspire me, including Pablo Picasso, Egon Schiele, Frida Kahlo, Willem de Kooning, Lucian Freud and Jackson Pollock. The painted portraits portray the early years of their lives, an intimate moment from childhood to adolescence, while capturing the mix of candour, melancholy, determination and ambition in their younger days, yet already on the path to greatness,” says Yan Pei-Ming.
The exhibition is structured as a tangible retrospective of a coming of age tale about watching, nourishing, respect and inspiration. The title ‘It Takes A Lifetime to Become Young’ is a revealing quote by Pablo Picasso that embodies Yan Pei-Ming’s reflection on the relationship between time and practice, youth and adulthood, rites of passage and commitment.
Observation is key in this exhibition. Amongst this display of great masters of painting as their younger selves, the artist chooses to add one self-portrait depicting him as he is today: reflecting on how the children’s gestures and expression, gaze and attitude have influenced the gestures of these great painters-to-be and his own approach to the gesture itself. By doing so, Yan Pei-Ming allows his admiration for the artist that nourished his formation to maintain the naivety and honesty of the first time he approached the painterly gesture.
‘It Takes a Lifetime to Become Young’ is a statement: the history of painting is a continuous journey through time and temperaments, evidence and fiction, gesture and thought; with this exhibition Yan Pei-Ming enters, expands and helps to define the narrative around this medium.
‘It Takes a Lifetime to Become Young’ by Yan Pei- Ming will be exhibited from 21 March 2016 to 22 May 2016 at Massimo De Carlo Gallery in Hong Kong.