Yin Xin : The western most Chinese painters
Yin Xin
The western most Chinese painters
Denyse Beaulieu, October 8, 2007
Yin Xin
Yin Xin


In the half-light of the Haussmann-era living room, a few paintings stand out on the lava dust grey walls… Classical compositions on a chiaroscuro background, smooth surfaces, refined executions, which could easily be mistaken for copies of past masters, impeccably rendered. Until you notice that each and every character is Chinese. This is how Yin Xin - a dandy raised on the outskirts of the Gobi desert, who now counts Alain Delon among his neighbours - operates his cultural revolution. In a gesture which is part passionate tribute, part ruthless hi-jacking, he literally translates the whole of Western art history.

Yin Xin_Tibetan women
Yin Xin_Tibetan women


Yin Xin_Ecole de Fontainebleau_Gabrielle Estrees et une de ses soeurs
Yin Xin_Ecole de Fontainebleau_Gabrielle Estrees et une de ses soeurs


Yin Xin_Dressing before the performance
Yin Xin_Dressing before the performance


Manet, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Holbein, Titiano, Chassériau, Ingres, David, Velasquez: the entire contents of the Louvre are refashioning to fill the imaginary museum of the Celestial Empire. Three centuries of painting that never happened in the land of ink and paper, three centuries of history returned to post-Maoist China, recreated in their full splendour by Yin Xin. Which is only fair, considering that the West, ever since the 18th century, found its inspiration in fantasies of the Orient and assorted chinoiseries.

Yin Xin_Young ballerines
Yin Xin_Young ballerines


Yin Xin_Dancer_A Point
Yin Xin_Dancer_A Point


Yin Xin_Prima Ballerina
Yin Xin_Prima Ballerina


Yin Xin_Mr. Li
Yin Xin_Mr. Li


For a boy born (1959) in Kashgar in Chinese Turkistan, where his parents landed during Mao’s Great Leap, and who first tried his skills on propaganda paintings at the age of 11, it has been a strange journey.

Yin Xin_Velazques, Innocent X
Yin Xin_Velazques, Innocent X


From the Silk Road to the Avenue Montaigne, from Soviet Realism to classical painting, from the Cultural Revolution to the avid, amorous, unyielding re-appropriation of humanity’s cultural heritage, of which his gigantic nation was long deprived…

Yin Xin_The young collector
Yin Xin_The young collector


Yin Xin_A la salle de vente
Yin Xin_A la salle de vente


Yin Xin_Rubens, Les trois graces
Yin Xin_Rubens, Les trois graces


“Back home, there were no Western paintings”, explains Yin Xin. “Only bad photographic reproductions in black and white. When I first saw a picture by Georges de La Tour, I felt the same shock you feel in front of a woman whom you have loved for a long time from afar. At last, she is there.” Ever since that day, Yin Xin has been seducing her… And she’s with him, in his living room: a La Tour maiden, in the Chinese version.

Yin Xin_Chasseriau, Les deux soeurs
Yin Xin_Chasseriau, Les deux soeurs


Yin Xin_De Vinci, Monna Lisa
Yin Xin_De Vinci, Monna Lisa


Yin Xin_Elegance Italy
Yin Xin_Elegance Italy


Yin Xin_Profil
Yin Xin_Profil


When he is asked whether this re-appropriation of Western tradition isn’t part of China’s formidable will to conquer the world, Yin Xin protests: “Many artists have inspired themselves from past masters! First I copied them to learn their techniques, then I found my own style.”

Yin Xin_Portrait of man
Yin Xin_Portrait of man


Yin Xin_Chardin Jaillier_Applique-avoir
Yin Xin_Chardin Jaillier_Applique-avoir


Yin Xin_Mr. Zhang
Yin Xin_Mr. Zhang


Yin Xin_Botticelli_Naissance de Venus
Yin Xin_Botticelli_Naissance de Venus


Today, Yin Xin works directly on ancient paintings found in flea markets, which he restores and transforms into palimpsests, replacing church towers with pagodas and frock coats with brocade robes. A series of fake-real antiques – the exact opposite of the seemingly 2000 year old teapot Yin Xin bought in Beijing, which he laughingly admits is certainly artificially aged…

Yin Xin_Chinese fencing
Yin Xin_Chinese fencing


Yin Xin_Dancer in Blue
Yin Xin_Dancer in Blue


Yin Xin_Golfer
Yin Xin_Golfer


Yin Xin_Holbein, Les Ambassadeurs
Yin Xin_Holbein, Les Ambassadeurs


Yin Xin_Petit Barchus
Yin Xin_Petit Barchus


“Metamorphoses” will, fittingly, be the title of his next exhibition at the Shanghai Art Museum in December – in a country where Yin Xin feels as much a stranger now, than he does in Paris. Irreparably cross-bred, as is all contemporary beauty.

Yin Xin_Publictoire
Yin Xin_Publictoire


Yin Xin_Red Flag
Yin Xin_Red Flag


Yin Xin_Swiming
Yin Xin_Swiming