Pei-Ming Yan 严培明



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Exhibition Event Title

Fonds régional d'art contemporain des Pays de la Loire, Nantes

Date of Exhibition Event


Location of Exhibition Event

Musée Léon Dierx, Saint Denis de la Réunion


Fonds régional d'art contemporain des Pays de la Loire, Nantes (Pays de la Loire Regional Contemporary Art Fund, Nantes)


Saint Denis de la Réunion

Rights Holder

Fonds régional d'art contemporain des Pays de la Loire, Nantes (Pays de la Loire Regional Contemporary Art Fund, Nantes)

Art School/Style

Villa Médicis


The book "Au bord de l’eau, 108 brigands” is written in French and contains images of 120 large-scale, black-and-white portraits painted by Yan Pei-Ming, a Chinese artist who has lived and worked in France since 1981. The book is published by the Pays de la Loire Regional Contemporary Art Fund (FRAC), operating from the Museum Leon Dierx in Saint-Denis, Réunion Island, a department of France in the Indian Ocean. Yan’s portraits reference the Chinese literary classic “Au bord de l’eau” (at the water’s edge), an epic novel told in 120 chapters depicting the crimes committed by 108 brigands. This oeuvre of paintings was executed during Ming (Yan is his family name) ’s stay at the French Academy in Rome (Villa Médicis) in 1993. The portraits of 108 brigands are depictions of people he has seen or met at Villa Médicis, including friends, acquaintances, and often himself. The artist has spoken of creating anti-portraits or “anonymous portraits” – portraits that are supposed to look like no one in particular at all (we usually say "unidentifiable"), representing the average person. “But most impressive and significant is that Ming (Yan is family name), in constructing his “pantheon”, revealed remarkable insight into the dialect between the “portrait” and the “anti-portrait”, shedding light on urgent and complex questions relating to the art and life, history and reality, cultural differences and exchanges”. “It is true that the characters in this series are individuals that Ming (Yan) himself knew and met. However, the “reality” of their portraits, once subjected to the definition of the “brigands”, becomes almost fictitious, if not legendary” (Hou Hanru, 18). The book includes a series of introductions. First, a preface by Ponthus Hulten, a Swedish art collector and museum director. Then, “Le Chinois” (The Chinese) by author Michel Enrici, which is followed by an introduction titled “L’anti-portait de Ming” (The Anti-Portrait by Ming) by Chinese art curator and critic, Hou Hanru. Finally the series concludes with “Le brigand collectif” (The brigand collection) by art historian Florens Deuchler. Additional Sources: Hanru, Hou. “L’anti-Portrait de Ming.” Au Bord de l’eau, 108 Brigands , Fonds Régional d’art Contemporain Des Pays de La Loire, Nantes, Musée Léon Dierx, Saint-Denis de La Réunion, 1995, pp. 15–19. (Nicole Wang ‘26)

Au bord de l'eau, 108 brigands (At the water's edge, 108 brigands)


Book Location


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