"You can't paint without emotion"
The Chinese artist Yan Pei-Ming honours the Lunar New Year with a pivotal, monumental painting that illustrates how the inclusiveness of the New Year connects us all.
"The Great Race”, by the contemporary painter Yan Pei-Ming, must have looked imposing when it was first installed in his studio in Dijon, a small city in eastern France.
Renowned for his portraits of animals and famous personalities, Yan Pei-Ming honours the Year of the Rabbit with a monumental painting measuring 6 x 3.5 meters, showing the animal and the 12 Chinese Zodiac signs within the extended family. "This painting is so particular. I wanted to represent twelve animals because it's beautiful and generous for me, even though a single rabbit is ten times easier to paint. The mass of the group is always impressive," the artist discloses. "It's not called “The Great Race” for anything. The added movements create dynamism. It's very mythical, somehow," he continues.
The allegory is one of togetherness in diversity: across generations, geography, and families — and despite differences — sharing culture is what connects us all. "
"An admirer's eye likely lingers on its centre – where the animals are depicted – instead of straining to discern the complexity of its true subject. But the work's true subject, the expressionist artist shares, is not one animal or another or even the cognac itself. Instead, Yan Pei-Ming wished to focus on capturing light. "When you hold a bottle of cognac up to sunlight, its hues and transparency vary so much. I wanted to portray cognac — but it's light that is really the colour of this painting," he says.
“The Great Race”, a vibrant composition inspired partly by an epic saga from Hollywood's golden era, shows the zodiac bestiary galloping in unison, evoking a message of freedom, inclusion, and interconnectedness. For the first time in his remarkable career, Yan Pei-Ming ventures into a new palette: cognac's amber, orange, russet and burgundy tones take pride of place in a composition that nods to the many eaux-de-vie and hues present in the Hennessy cognac. The artist's signature broad, sweeping brushstrokes impart a sense of universality, immediacy, and adventure. "To provoke myself, I decided to paint in colour. It's very different from what I usually do. This is something new, and it's a real adventure," he shares. "
"For the first time, in 2023 Hennessy ushers in the Lunar New Year by honouring not just a single, symbolic animal, but the entire Zodiac in all its diversity.
"I think, to push the painting to be what I wanted it to be, I needed a much more eternal painting. I've never painted the Chinese Zodiac before; this is the first opportunity that allowed me to do so. So that's it. Instead of doing one year, I did twelve animals to represent twelve years," he says." This painting can live independently; it doesn't represent a specific year. It's a painting that can be shown at any time, place, or country. If you don't know the Chinese Zodiac, it's an autonomous painting, and a painting must be able to exist autonomously, independently," he continues. "
"In the hands of Yan Pei-Ming, a joyful celebration becomes a symbol of inclusiveness and hope, carrying a promise of forwarding momentum after a particularly challenging period. The animals' spirited race toward new horizons conveys a singular truth: "Together, We Go Further."
"I think it's important to have so many animals present. Because it gives strength, a race, plus it has movement. In the end, the mass of a group will always make the group much stronger."
And that's the beauty of Yan Pei-Ming's artwork: not only does it offer visual confirmation that the world has been interconnected for far longer than many people have supposed, but it also offers a reminder of the value of togetherness and the power of the collective. "
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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