Can images disappear? Can images die? These questions arise from the appropriation of and reference to The Bible. Here, death foretells resurrection. God creating the world in seven days and Jesus rising from the dead after three days also suggest that there are also stages to Yan’s work.
Yan Lei transforms these images using only blocks of color, and in the Documenta space, they formed an almost church-like painted dome. These colored blocks made it seem as if the space was covered in color, an association that shows us something about ourselves. These colored blocks are the products of consumerism and industrial production, but they can also be seen as stained glass from a church window. These blocks point to collective memory and experience, and hint at our desires. This is similar to many of Yan’s previous work, such as Are You in that Exhibition in Germany? (1996), Invitation Letter (1997), and Can I See Your Work? (1997). These pieces naturally became a part of Yan Lei’s artistic system. His later works hide words behind these colored paintings, which inspire layered memories. He extends these works through other people and affirms their role in society. He examines the relationship between painting and knowledge, while also probing issues of rationality and legitimacy in the art system. When taken together, they provide a critique of consumerism and the status of the artist.