More than 30 paintings covering the full spectrum of works by Pan Tianshou, who is honoured as one of modern Chinese painting's Four Traditionalist Masters, will be on display at the Hong Kong Museum of Art from tomorrow (November 25) to February 5. Visitors can take this opportunity to appreciate this great master of art's unique style, characterised by vigorous brushwork and forceful composition.
Entitled "Revitalising the Glorious Tradition: The Retrospective Exhibition of Pan Tianshou's Art", this exhibition is the first highlight of the Hong Kong Museum of Art's 50th anniversary celebrations. It was officially opened today (November 24) by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing; the son of Pan Tianshou, the President of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Professor Pan Gongkai; the Director of the China Academy of Art and Deputy Chairman of the China Artists Association, Professor Xu Jiang; the Deputy Director of the Department of Arts of the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China, Mr Zhu Di; the former Vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference of Zhejiang Province, Mr Li Qing; the Executive Vice Chairperson of the Pan Tian-shou Foundation, Ms Jennifer Hu; the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung; and the Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Mr Tang Hoi-chiu.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the exhibition, Mr Tsang noted that Pan was a prominent figure in modern Chinese painting, making significant contributions to the preservation, updating and development of traditional painting.
"Devoted to artistic creation and art education, Pan not only brought Chinese art to the world but also nurtured a great number of students, putting tremendous effort into the development of Chinese calligraphy teaching," Mr Tsang said.
Early this year, the Pan Tian-shou Foundation hosted the exhibition "The Art of Pan Tianshou" at the National Museum of China in Beijing to mark the 40th year since Pan's death. With support from the Foundation, the China Academy of Art and the Pan Tianshou Memorial Museum, this exhibition has been brought to Hong Kong for sharing with the public the artistic charm of the great master's work.
Selected from the Pan Tianshou Memorial Museum in Hangzhou, the exhibits include Pan's early flower painting inspired by Wu Changshuo, landscape paintings composed between the 1920s and 1930s, and his renowned finger paintings of vultures and lotus plants, as well as several large-scale masterpieces such as "Transporting Iron Ore by Sailboat", "Buffalo in a Summer Pond" and "The Almighty Gaze". An installation artwork, "Snow Melting in Lotus", by Pan's son, Professor Pan Gongkai, which was shown at the Venice Biennale 2011, is also on display. By offering a dialogue between the two generations of Chinese artists through their works composed in different times and places, the exhibition provides an extraordinary opportunity for the audience to get a glimpse of Chinese art development over the past century.
With a keen interest in painting since childhood, Pan (1897-1971) exposed himself to the basics of the art by copying "The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting", and he aspired to become an artist working in Chinese painting. Later he was admitted to the Zhejiang First Normal College in Hangzhou, where he learnt from Jing Hengyi, Li Shutong and Xia Mianzun.
Trained as a modern educator and guided by contemporary heavyweight Wu Changshuo, Pan chose to start his career in art and education in Shanghai. At various art institutions in Shanghai, he took senior positions such as Professor of Chinese painting at the Shanghai College of Fine Arts and Dean of the Department of Art Education at the Xinhua Art College. Invited by Lin Fengmian, the founding Director of the National Academy of Art (now known as the China Academy of Art) in Hangzhou who highly appreciated his talent, Pan became the Chief Professor of Chinese Painting at the Academy. Later in his career, Pan also served as Director of the National College of Art in Chongqing and the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts, during which he played an instrumental role in the education of calligraphy and painting in modern China.
During the 20th century, when calls for integrating Chinese and Western art and even complete Westernisation were overwhelming among art circles in the Mainland, Pan differentiated himself by proposing that "Chinese and Western paintings need to be separated".
In the early years of the People's Republic of China, there was a wave of national nihilism that despised national and cultural heritage during which traditional Chinese calligraphy and painting were almost drowned. Under these circumstances, Pan still devoted himself to the defence of tradition by promoting specialised training in three traditional disciplines of Chinese painting, as well as restoring Chinese calligraphy education, which contributed enormously to the inheritance of Chinese art and its educational development.
Pan created his works rationally, and with repeated trials he eventually developed his unique and innovative layout and composition. Bringing theory into practice, Pan applied modern art language to demonstrate and enrich the traditional techniques and created a great variety of compositions. His works are not only the quintessence of art that marries energy with aesthetics but also much-sought-after examples for learners of Chinese painting.
To tie in with the exhibition, an academic lecture will be organised to look into the accomplishments of Pan's art on November 25 from 2.45pm to 6.30pm at the museum's Lecture Hall. Speakers will include Professor Pan; Professor Xu; the former Director of the Academy of Visual Arts at Hong Kong Baptist University, Professor Wan Qingli; and the Research Officer of the Centre of Asian Studies at the University of Hong Kong, Mr Gan Yang. The lecture, in Putonghua, will be free of charge and 120 seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Hong Kong Museum of Art is located at 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. It is open from 10am to 6pm daily and from 10am to 8pm on Saturdays. On Christmas Eve and Chinese New Year's Eve, the museum will open at 10am and close at 5pm. It is closed on Thursdays (except public holidays) and the first two days of the Chinese New Year. Admission is $10 and a half-price concession is available to full-time students, senior citizens and people with disabilities. Admission is free on Wednesdays.
For further information, call 2721 0116 or visit the Museum of Art's website at www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/Museum/Arts/english/exhibitions/exhibitions01_oct11_02.html.
Ends/Thursday, November 24, 2011
Pan Tianshou organised the monumental and intricate composition of his "Pine, Plum Blossoms, and Pigeons" by balancing objects large and small. The vigorous pine and plum trees emerge from a cluster of rocks, extending from the right edge of the painting to the left and serving as a backdrop. The trees and rocks suggest solidity and fortitude and at the same time dramatise the pigeons' small size. The 19 pigeons are strategically placed and arranged with their different poses suggesting communication and grouping.
The painting "Transporting Iron Ore by Sailboat", created by Pan Tianshou in 1957, allows the audience to see the construction of the Xin'an River Power Station. The arresting and integral composition is the key to the success of this painting - a huge boulder and pine tree rise from the left and push the composition toward the right, but as a counterbalance the pine needles and branches twist back toward the left.
"A Corner of the Little Dragon Pond" by Pan Tianshou. The artist gave the rocks texture with vigorous brushwork and articulated the flora with fluent line drawing. The delicacy of the vegetation balances the roughness of the boulders, creating a pleasing harmony of objects hard and soft, round and angular.
In "Flowers of Mount Yandang", Pan Tianshou selected as his subjects different species of flora. He organised his composition by alternating between meticulous and freehand brush stokes, and between warm and cool colour tones. For example, two detailed white lilies rise among sketched red flowers and black leaves. Such rhythmic alternation enlivens the painting. Pan was able to convey the spirit of Mount Yandang with such a lively and dynamic painting.
"Resilient Pine at Dusk", created by Pan Tianshou in 1964.
Pan Tianshou excelled in painting flowers and animals in horizontal compositions. His style, "two mountains divided by water", uniquely combines the genres of landscape and flower-and-bird painting. "Buffalo in a Summer Pond" is a classic example. He chose the unusual subject of an old buffalo and painted its half-submerged form with splashed ink. The buffalo's immense body echoes the angular boulder on the far shore, as if they were an island and a cliff facing each other in a valley. The quiet image of the old buffalo in still water is translated into an energetic depiction of the landscape of the Three Gorges.
The opening ceremony of "Revitalising the Glorious Tradition: The Retrospective Exhibition of Pan Tianshou's Art" was held today (November 24) at the Hong Kong Museum of Art. The picture shows the officiating guests cutting the ribbon at the opening ceremony. (From left) The Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung; the Executive Vice Chairperson of the Pan Tian-shou Foundation, Ms Jennifer Hu; the Deputy Director of the Department of Arts of the Ministry of Culture, Mr Zhu Di; the son of Mr Pan Tianshou and the President of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Professor Pan Gongkai; the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing; the Director of the China Academy of Art and Deputy Chairman of the China Artists Association, Professor Xu Jiang; the former Vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference of Zhejiang Province, Mr Li Qing; and the Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Mr Tang Hoi-chiu.
Officiating guests tour the exhibition.