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Chinese Red Sculptor Pan He: Red on the Outside, Contemporary on the Inside

Famous Chinese red sculptor, might appear Red, on the outside, it has been expressing contemporary and, sometimes, even, bold statements, all through the history of the PRC, not retrospectively.

 
PRLog - Sep. 27, 2011 - GUANGZHOU, China -- Guangzhou, September 26, 2011 - There are Chinese artists who poke fun at the Cultural Revolution and call it contemporary art, and there are Chinese artists who have been making contemporary statements with their art since before the Cultural Revolution.  There are today’s stylish dissident artists, and there are those who dissented for years, back when it was even more dangerous.  There are Chinese artists who have become crowd-pleasing commercial enterprises, and there are those who are more subtle, both in their statements and in their self-promotion.  Pan He, who has been making art for sixty years, is one of the latter, and all through those years, his art has had much to say.  While it may, at first, appear Red, on the outside, it has been expressing contemporary and, sometimes, even, bold statements, all through the history of the PRC, not retrospectively.
Yes, Pan He did reject the capitalist way of life and moved from Hong Kong to the mainland, in the middle of the twentieth century, but he and his art have not exactly been held back by the communist yolk.  Born in the second quarter of the century to an intellectual family with a lawyer as a father, Pan grew up as an elite, and even though he chose to serve the people with his art, he never really was a common man.  While some of his art may appear patriotic, on the outside, it is pure contemporary social and political commentary, on the inside.
He was discovered by Chairman Mao, in the early 1950’s, and his sculpture, “When I Grow Up,” a tribute to rural school teachers, became the symbol of the new China. By the second half of the 1950’s he was making sculpture whose messages were outright challenges to the party.  Even though books, news articles and movies portray his sculpture, “Tough Times,” as a tribute to the Long March, it was made as a challenge to the government’s lie about the communist “liberation” of Hainan Island.  Instead of getting carted off to jail, that time, Pan got a surprise when the government propaganda machine repurposed the sculpture as a tribute to the Long March and praised it in a national media blitz.  A decade later, though, when Pan was asked to make a tribute sculpture for Mao, he created his “Young Mao,” the real reason being that he did not respect Mao after he came to power, only before.  Seen as disrespectful, it resulted in jail time and torture.  When the Chinese government asked him to make another Mao sculpture, several years ago, he agreed, but his price was a letter of apology for how he was wrongfully imprisoned, the first time.
Indeed, although the young idealist artist, who left Hong Kong for the mainland because he thought that communism was preferable to capitalism, not only has proved to be a good capitalist, garnering millions for creating large public sculpture for the people, but, also, has had much to say, in his art, against the system he embraced.  When he gave us a tour of his sculpture garden, in Guangzhou, he was quick to point out that the arrangement begins with his history of modern China, back in the 1800’s, when a few Chinese intellectuals began embracing foreign ideas and sowing the seeds of revolt against the system and the closure of China to the West.  Thus, he places his emphasis, not on Chairman Mao or the PRC, but on rejection of a closed, elitist system and the pursuit of new ideas. His messages are of freedom from oppression and embracing new ideas.  As Pan tells us, he only makes art when he has something to say, but he says it in so subtle a way that his benefactors never see red: they only see Red, while the thinking man sees beyond the Red veil.  In fact, to him, that is the real beauty of art, especially, sculpture: that its message can be interpreted in a number of ways.  
His “Spirit of Shenzhen” is a commentary on the enormous task of pulling up all of the deadwood, in China.  When asked to make a tribute sculpture to the Han oil workers, who tapped the oil reserves in Xinjiang, he made a tribute to the local Uyghur, who got water as a reward, instead.  He has also made sculptural tributes to those who were wronged by the government, stretching back to the Ming Dynasty.  When asked to make a symbol for one of China’s mega factory cities, he reckoned that the rise of the Chinese began, not with the recent industrialization, but with the Opium Wars, and he created a sculpture showing, simply, two massive hands breaking an opium pipe in two.  His sculptures range from philosophical to pure fun and includes sculpture of friends, historical figures from around the world, as well as tributes to the local Chinese minority.  His style often resembles that of Michelangelo or Rodin, as they are the two artists that he measures himself against.
All told, Pan He has been creating thoughtful and contemporary art for over sixty years with major works numbering over 100, and with sixty collected by museums.  He is the only Chinese artist to receive a national lifetime achievement award, in art, twice.   Not a day goes by when Pan He is not in some sort of news publication, in China, yet he is relatively unknown, in the West.  His works, along with those by his son, Pan Fen, are currently featured in an exhibition at Leona Craig Art Gallery, in Guangzhou.  Although he has had many exhibitions at museums, this is the first gallery exhibition that he has agreed to, in his sixty year career.
We are constantly on the lookout for great Chinese art, and we don’t just look for it in the usual places.  From what we have discovered, there’s much more to modern Chinese art than what makes the headlines, and we endeavor to bring it to you through Leona Craig Art.
Although, at first blush, one might see Pan He’s art as Red, we see it as contemporary for over sixty years, from the China Republic to the modern PRC.
About Leona Craig Art:
Leona Craig Art is a gallery of a different kind of Chinese contemporary art, focusing on fine art with more subtle, more meaningful social commentary from well-known Chinese artists, in modern oil and watercolor painting, sculpture, and more.  The curator of the collection is Craig Mattoli, CEO of Red Hill Capital Corporation, who has been involved in both art and professional investment for several decades.

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Leona Craig Art is a gallery of a different kind of Chinese contemporary art, focusing on fine art with more subtle, more meaningful social commentary from well-known Chinese artists, in modern oil and watercolor painting, sculpture, and more. The curator of the collection is Craig Mattoli, CEO of Red Hill Capital Corporation, who has been involved in both art and professional investment for several decades.

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Contact Email:
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Source:Craig Mattoli
Phone:+86 20 37625069
Zip:510080
City/Town:Guangzhou - Guangdong - China
Industry:Gallery
Tags:Art, gallery, investment, collection, sculpture, sculptor
Shortcut:prlog.org/11674984
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