Yan Pei-Ming

Tigres et vautours

26.06 – 26.09.2021

Yan Pei-Ming’s dual exhibition at the Collection Lambert and in the Grand Chapel of the Palais des Papes follows in a long tradition of exhibitions in the pontifical palace. In recent years Yan Pei-Ming has developed several projects in close association with emblematic sites, at the Villa Médicis, the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the Musée Courbet, and the Petit Palais.

And again, today, in this new exhibition, Yan Pei-Ming reveals all the ambition of a body of work firmly anchored in the contemporary world, but whose essence is contained in its vast appreciation of space and time, that enlists the past so that we can look at the present with renewed, ever-questioning, awareness.  

The exhibition at the Collection Lambert consists of almost forty artworks from almost forty years of career. The figures of Popes Innocent X and Paul III, of Bruce Lee, Che Guevara, Marilyn, Martin Luther King, Lee Harvey Oswald, John F. Kennedy, or Mao, share the ground floor galleries of the 18thcentury mansions alongside the portraits of other men and women – American soldiers, Sudanese immigrants and children, prostitutes, anonymous faces, the artist’s parents – and imaginary landscapes of exodus or representations of wild animals, tigers and vultures. 

All tell us of the extraordinary power of Yan Pei-Ming’s painting to embrace centuries of history in one fell swoop to take on board, alongside the figures that have shaped civilisation, the unknown destinies of those who make up the people that history “looks directly at”, to borrow the term from Georges Didi-Huberman. 

All tell us of the artist’s capacity to engage heroically with the world of images; the images that tell us the story of ourselves, as a whole and one by one.


The painter Yan Pei-Ming was born in Shanghai in 1960 and arrived in France at the age of nineteen. In 1986 he graduated from the Ecole Nationale Superieure de Beaux-Artsin Dijon, and rapidly achieved recognition for his painting centred on the portrait genre. His paintings, recognisable for their deft and inventive brushwork, are characterised by their uniformity of colour: occasional marks of dark red wind their way among primarily white, grey, and black strokes. He is best known for his imposing, near monochrome portraits, of figures such as Mao Zedong, Bruce Lee, or Barack Obama.  

His participation in the 2003 Venice Biennale established his position on the international art scene. Six years later the Louvre invited him to dialogue with the Mona Lisa, for which he created a series of paintings entitled The Funeral of Mona Lisa. In 2016 Yan Pei-Ming created new work specifically for the Villa Medicis, in homage to the city of Rome. More recently, at the end of 2019, he celebrated the bicentenary of Gustave Courbet with two remarkable exhibitions, at the Petit Palais and the Musée d’Orsay. There is currently an exhibition of his work, entitled “In the Name of the Father”, at the Unterlinden Museum in Colmar. 

He lives and works in Dijon and in Ivry-sur-Seine.

Curating: Henri Loyrette, Dominique Vingtain, Stéphane Ibars

Lenders: Fondation Louis Vuitton, Tia Foundation (Santa Fe), FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Consortium Museum, Musée Paul Valéry, Heidi Horten Collection, Private collections.

With the support of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London/Paris/Salzburg and MASSIMODECARLO