Christian Silvain Accuses Ye Yongqing of Plagiarism
By Pamela Wong
In mid-February, Belgium-based artist Christian Silvain publicly accused painter Ye Yongqing of plagiarism. He told Belgian television channel RTBF that he had learned of the alleged copy-cat works from his friends, who encountered Ye’s mixed-media paintings with symbols such as birds, cages and red crosses, and grid-based compositions—common tropes in Silvain’s works—in Bonn. Silvain later also received a call from a gallery owner in Amsterdam, who told him he had paintings resembling Silvain’s but that were of an unusual quality. Silvain then contacted Sabam, a German copyright organization, and the work was removed from the Amsterdam show.
According to Silvain, his works were created between 1985 and ’86, whereas Ye began to paint in a similar style in the early-1990s. In response to the accusations, Ye told Southern Metropolis Daily on February 28 that his team has been trying to contact Silvain, and he has been “deeply influenced” by Silvain for years.
Silvain told Sixth Tone that he is considering legal action, though his fear of Ye’s popularity among auction houses and influence in China have made him hesitant to sue Ye. Famously known as “Chief Ye” in China, Ye is a professor at Sichuan Fine Arts Institute. His artworks have been sold at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, fetching prices as high as EUR 600,000 (USD 672,000).
Pamela Wong is the assistant editor of ArtAsiaPacific.