Red Bonnet


Oil on canvas

39 × 46 cm (15 3/8 × 18 1/8 in.)

The title of the work seems to draw the viewer's attention to the red cap worn by the character represented by Xinyi Cheng in this small painting.

Responding to the strong red of the lips, this vermilion contrasts with the blue-purple complexion of this pensive face, half lying on the figure's folded forearm. In this nocturnal portrait, the painter has moved the light source—neon, lampshade?—outside the picture plane, but it is the effect of its shadow that gives the incarnation of this woman, or man, an almost outrageously coloured glow from this distant light. Is Xinyi Cheng conjuring up the memory of Goya, author of a painting in full sunlight (El Quitasol, 1777) which marked the history of painting and the face of his model with a green shadow? The young painter born in 1989 in China, who lives between Shanghai and Paris, seems here to have invented a neo-luminism, recalling impressionist models' bluish faces under their parasols.

Cheng captures a gesture, a face: a cigarette between the lips, a man bringing his mouth to a trickle of water, hands protecting a flame... She often tightens the frame and draws inspiration from photography to imagine small format paintings, like intimate fragments. She represents ordinary situations, a sum of small gestures and strives to capture halos, reflections, bursts of water, and flames—as many unstable states that her painting depicts with an unsettling sensuality.

This work by Xinyi Cheng is presented for the first time by the Pinault Collection in the exhibition "Ouverture" at the Bourse de Commerce in 2021