Yan Lei


Yan Lei (b. 1965, Hebei, China) graduated from the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now known as the China Academy of Art) in Hangzhou in 1991. Yan is a singular and unconventional figure in the Chinese contemporary art world. Adopting an independent and distant attitude, he explores and unveils different issues, such as power relationships, competition or the closeness of values and prices that exist in the art system through various media including painting, sculpture, installation, video, and performance. His works often incorporate multiple and contradictory values. This ambiguousness shows, on the one hand, the artist’s alertness to and reflection on the various problems in art making today and, on the other hand, the solitude that he feels from being part of the system and his complex feelings confronted with vulgar reality.

Yan has participated in a great number of international exhibitions including the Istanbul Biennial, Guangzhou Triennial, Bienal de São Paulo, Gwangju Biennale, Shanghai Biennale, and Venice Biennale, among others.  He has also had solo exhibitions in museums such as the Hong Kong Arts Centre, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in Beijing, and the Aspen Art Museum in Colorado, USA. In 2002, Yan was awarded Best Artist by the CCAA (Chinese Contemporary Art Awards). He was invited to take part in Documenta in Kassel, Germany in 2007 and 2012. The artist’s works are in collections including M+ Sigg Collection and the Hong Kong Museum of Art in Hong Kong; Long Museum, Shanghai; Centre Pompidou Paris; EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art Collection, Finland; The Guy & Myriam Ullens Foundation Collection, Geneva; The Red Mansion Foundation, London; and Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, USA.

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