Oil on canvas
61 x 50 cm
From her surroundings, Cheng captures a gesture, a face: tightly pressed lips approaching a lighter, a man bringing his mouth to a jet of water, hands protecting the flame of a match, the coloured shadow of night on a face, a young man with his head in his hands...
Born in 1989 in China and living between Shanghai and Paris, the artist tightens the frame and draws inspiration from photography to imagine small format paintings, scenes of encounters, intimate fragments, with a chiaroscuro tension. The artist represents ordinary situations, a sum of small gestures. She strives to capture halos, reflections, flames, bursts of water, as many unstable states that her painting depicts with an unsettling sensuality.
Here a woman is represented lighting a cigarette. If the gender of the subject is given to us through the title of the work (Jane), by revealing her first name, ambiguity remains. The cigarette participates in this indecision, shifting our attention, inviting us to witness a private moment, in an intimate space. The pictorial material and the position of the character give this scene an almost erotic presence.
The artist explores the history of Western art and is interested in the very subject of painting, that of light treated as much by Van Eyck, or Georges de La Tour, as by more contemporary painters. The young woman in the painting brings a flame to her cigarette, her face shimmering in the lighter's glow, her thumb transluminescent, its incandescence seeming to pierce the canvas.
This work by Xinyi Cheng is presented by the Pinault Collection for the first time in the exhibition "Ouverture" at the Bourse de Commerce in 2021.