Yan Pei Ming shot to fame with epic-sized portraits of Chairman Mao and Bruce Lee, but his portfolio of work has expanded to include fascinating portrayals of world leaders and celebrities.
He was born in Shanghai in 1960, but doesn’t view himself as a Chinese artist. As he rightly states, his paintings speak a more universal language. Yan Pei Ming’s monochromatic paintings leaves you completely immersed in the colorful stories behind them. Ming shot to fame with epic-sized portraits of Chairman Mao and Bruce Lee, but his portfolio of work has expanded to include fascinating portrayals of world leaders and celebrities. This includes the one he was commissioned to do in 2010 of Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. Remember the striking black and white portraits at the entrance of Mathaf? That’s the handiwork of Ming.
A large body of his work was also exhibited at Katara till earlier this month. Through the exhibition titled “Painting the History”, Ming highlighted the power of painting as a medium for documenting historical events and portraying iconic figures. An entire wall was dedicated to the history of modern Arab history that showcased a series of portraits in watercolors of some influential personalities from the region such as late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and Lebanese singer Fairuz. On display was a also single piece by the artist—a triptych of the most famous paintings in Western art – “The Death of Marat” by Jacques-Louis David. In an attempt to carry forward David’s process of chronicling news through art, the artist revisited the assassination of political leaders from the beginning of the 20th century to date, including Che Guevera and Mahatma Gandhi through his paintings. He sort of revived the role that paintings once played, documenting history; something digital content is now beginning to monopolise.