When Hennessy met Yan Pei-Ming
Hennessy heralds a brand-new cycle in the Chinese calendar through a monumental composition by Yan Pei-Ming, one of the world's most celebrated and sought-after contemporary artists.
He calmly inhales the smoke from his cigar, casually seated on an armchair in his studio, a few metres in front of the red portrait, later to be named “The Great Race”, surrounded by people calling him by his first name, something he embraces, being gentle and generous as he is. His fame did not detract him from his accessibility. With him, all subjects are allowed, even the most intimate. "I'm taking the opportunity today to do a large-scale format. Why? I know very well that one day I will be physically unable to do so. That's what it means when age decides when you do what," he says. "It's an urgency to do something that I can do today. And that I won't be able to do it one day. That's what it's all about," he adds while laughing. He's young at heart, his eyes have a youthfulness to them, they shine with delight, and his desire to paint is bubbling. In fact, later that day, he'll grab a brush and spontaneously start painting. "Painting is a never-ending thing," he says with a smile.
"Chinese by birth and naturalised French, the Expressionist artist has a life story that in many ways mirrors that of Richard Hennessy, the Irish-born founder of the House that, more than 250 years later, still bears his name.
Like him, Yan Pei-Ming's story is one of striking out for adventure, embracing a vision, and building a life in a foreign land. Having seamlessly integrated into French culture, the artist graduated from the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Dijon and made that city his home and the heart of his practice.
"I love France enormously," he says. "I came here knowing that I wanted to paint. That quickly cancelled any doubts and hesitations. I kept asking myself: 'Are you capable? Do you have something to say? How do you want to express it?' France is where I developed my character and forged my vision of the world. It's the country that gave me a chance. I am at home here. "
Yan Pei-Ming has won international acclaim for his unique style of Expressionist portraiture. Conveying the tension between conventional form and contemporary relevance, his subjects span people in the public eye, iconic works in art history, current events, still-lifes, religious subjects, friends and family, and animals. In particular, his anthropomorphic works convey a message of universality, interconnectedness and the need to live in harmony with the world. Simply put, it includes an array of intertwined destinies, and according to Yan Pei-Ming himself, the decision on what to paint "depends on the subject, on the moment, and on current events". His body of work indeed encompasses a broad spectrum of subjects, including history and current events, and in his studio, the radio can be heard all day long, his assistant assures us. "For me, it's a necessity to paint current events. All this constantly moves me," he says with a smile. "... I'm not a prisoner of my own palette. That means that I can do everything without being a prisoner of one style, one look. Some painters are colourists, but for me, it's more about the light, the shadow."
Powerful and often bigger than life portraits, in turn, his Expressionist artwork also pursues an intriguing goal: to discover the man behind the paintings. The artist has a definite taste for staging and drama, with no inhibitions regarding revealing his state of mind and an unusual method: to stir up the darkness to find the light. By reducing his palette to black and white – especially black – the artist forces the viewer's eye to tame the darkness until it reveals an unsuspected glow. This is the magic of his painting, an unprecedented light and shade for which he seemed destined: his name "Ming" translates to "light and lightning". It’s understandable why Yan Pei-Ming is a man of immensely serious mien, one whose humour sometimes seems buried in a single glint in his eye. He's somewhat of an art-world maverick, one that will continue to make many more monumental paintings made to last and impress.
HENNESSY V.S.O.P x YAN PEI-MING
Hennessy V.S.O.P is a balanced cognac, expressing 200 years of Hennessy's know-how. The fruit of nature’s uncertainties, this unique blend has tamed the elements to craft and embody the original concept of cognac. The emotion awakened by the pleasure of tasting it continually reveals new facets of its personality.
The savoir-faire of the Maison Hennessy is fully expressed in this balanced cognac: the selection of eaux-de-vie, aging and assemblage. A cognac of remarkable consistency and vitality, Hennessy V.S.O.P conveys all of the savoir-faire of the Hennessy master blenders who have ensured the continued success of this harmonious assemblage for 200 years.
HENNESSY X.O x YAN PEI-MING
In 1870, Maurice Hennessy, a 4th-generation member of the Hennessy family, asked the Master Blender Emile Fillioux, a descendant of the Hennessy Master Blender Jean Fillioux, to create a special cognac for his family and friends, using long-aged eaux-de-vie to perfect the blend. They called it “X.O” for “Extra Old”, the original, and a legend was born. Hennessy X.O attained international renown and contributed to the development of the category XO which is a gauge of uncompromising quality. Thanks to 150 years of meticulous know-how, Hennessy X.O remains as inspiring today as it was the day Hennessy first shared it with his inner circle. The powerful and balanced structure of Hennessy X.O carries the promise of an extremely long finish, with each drop an invitation to embark on a journey of the senses through seven tasting notes.
HENNESSY PARADIS x YAN PEI-MING
Created by Maurice Fillioux in 1979, the cognac Hennessy Paradis is known for its voluptuous and harmonious aroma.
It consists of eaux-de-vie, which are a reflection of the personality of such a delightful cognac: supple, light and round.
They are blended into an excellent cognac defined by its graceful, silky character, highlighting its finely nuanced and harmoniously balanced aromatic qualities.
Its superb display of coppery gold colours is an indication of the many years it has spent ageing in old casks.
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