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The Yishu8 Golden Phoenix 2023 Award

Since 2019, Hennessy annually supports the Yishu8 Golden Phoenix Award, which honors a Chinese artist then to reside in Paris and Cognac, celebrating the connection between French and Chinese cultures.


The Yishu8 Golden Phoenix 2023 award for Chinese contemporary art has been given to Yao Bangliang. The artist has been fascinated by lacquer and its creative potential for many years. He explains how lacquer, like cognac, bridges past, present and future.

Yao Bangliang, lacquer artist, 2023 Yishu8 Prize winner


The art of lacquer

As a student at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, Yao Bangliang discovered a new medium: lacquer. Although it had been used in ancestral Chinese tradition for 8,000 years, the young artist became captivated by the modernity and potential of that time-honored craft.


Yao Bangliang's visit in Cognac

During his visit to Cognac, Yao Bangliang was inspired by “a feeling of surprise” that comes with seeing his own art reflected in another time-honored craft. He found it especially moving that Hennessy savoir-faire has been preserved and passed down from one generation to the next for more than 250 years. 

Similarities between the art of lacquer and the cognac


Hennessy's Century-Old Savoir-Faire

“It’s rare for a House to endure for centuries,” he observed. “The savoir-faire is a work of art in itself: each generation finds beauty in what they do, and transmits it to the next. There’s something very selfless about that.”


Artistic Parallels: Cognac and Lacquer Craft

The artist found compelling similarities between cognac-making and the art of lacquer work. Just as the sun, soil and air let a vineyard flourish, and just as time produces blends nuanced by light, smoothness and grace, so it is with lacquer. In a neat piece of symmetry, he explains, the Chinese ideogram for ‘lacquer’ is written with three drops of water, wood, a person and more water. 

Photo : © Yao Bangliang


“I find that the transformation of anything — the contact between time and air — makes incredible things happen. You don’t necessarily know what the result will be while you are working. It only reveals its true character with time.”


Thanks to the Yishu8 Prize, Bangliang also sees his horizon expanding in new ways. “It’s like a companion that lets you grow as an artist,” he says. “As an artist, you produce your own savoir-faire but, just like with cognac-making, it’s the sharing that lets you stand the test of time.”

Hennessy V.S

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