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Pan He Agrees to First Gallery Exhibition along with Son Pan Fen in: Two Generations of Pan Sculptu
Leona Craig Art is pleased to announce the first gallery exhibition of sculpture by Pan He, the Michelangelo of China, along with sculpture by his son, Pan Fen. Both have created public sculpture around China, and smaller versions are quite rare.
By: Leona Craig Art
The exhibition is about contrasts and continuity. Born in 1925, Pan He grew up in a wealthy intellectual family during the dawn of democratic China. He traveled in Europe and began his artistic career when he was only a teen, and his role models were Michelangelo and Rodin. Then, torn by the conflict of being an artist, while those around him were actively pursuing wealth, he moved from Hong Kong to the mainland around the middle of the twentieth century, in a show of rejection of capitalistic pursuits, preferring to dedicate his artistic talents to enrich the lives of the people, and most of his work has been done in the form of public sculpture.
His piece, When I Grow Up, was chosen to represent the new China, in the early 1950’s. He went on to make sculptures of Mao Zedong, but only when Mao was an idealistic youth, not after he became a despot: Pan’s own brand of dissent. He has made symbol sculptures for Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Zhuhai, to name a few, and of important people, in the history of China, many of whom were heroes, whose lives came to unfortunate ends at the hand of the state, like Marshal He Long and Yuan Chong Huan. Indeed, irony is a major theme in his works, and he tells us that he only makes sculpture when he has something important to say. For us, it is not only the beautiful classical style of his works that makes them great but also his subtle social commentary. Moreover, smaller versions of sculptures, like those in our exhibition, are quite rare. During the creation process, only several copies are cast in bronze, and additional bronze castings are limited to nine by both he and his son. His works have been collected by some of China’s most elite.
Pan Fen, He’s sculptor son, is part of the new generation of Chinese artists. Born in 1964, during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, by the time he was a teenager, Mao’s reign had ended, and China had begun yet another period of opening up to the rest of the world. While some artists of China’s early twentieth century had suffered incarceration and torture for their supposed speaking out against the government, and other artists of the present loudly voice their dissent, in public, only to get attention, Pan Fen, like his father, uses his art to make his own subtle version of social and political commentary. Unlike his father, however, Pan Fen’s art is done in a fresher more modern style, while retaining some of the classical appeal that comes from growing up with and assisting his father, in his work. Trained as a sculptor at his father’s knee and later at the famous Guangzhou Academy of Fine Art where his father has also been a professor for several decades, Pan Fen found himself in a new China that was pulling itself up from the mud of an agrarian society into a world of urbanization with tall buildings, instead of feeble crops, pushing themselves out of the earth to the heavens. For him, these very buildings were a modern form of sculpture, and he dedicated the beginnings of his artistic career to aid in the design of theses giant sculptural complexes of tall buildings and green spaces, which were cropping up in his native Guangdong Province, whose Baiyun Hotel was the tallest building in China, as early as 1978, in the dawn of this new China. As his career in this new urban sculpture unfolded, he was inevitably called upon to create the more traditional sculpture to adorn the spaces in between, and the latter part of his career has been dedicated to the pure sculpture that is included in our current exhibition. His art takes the form of the social commentary of which we are particularly fond, and it addresses issues, from the plight of the Chinese people to its minorities to all of us, as human beings. We like even more that he can create art with the high technical skill of realism or with more abstract and modern lines, and he has even succeeded in bridging the gap between those two extremes, sometimes blending elements of both.
Leona Craig Art is thrilled to be able to bring such a special exhibition as this to the public gallery realm, and we have added all of the contents of this exhibition to our website, so that, art aficionados from around the world can share in it. An opening reception with the artists will be held from 3 to 5 pm, Sunday, August 14th at LC Gallery, 11 Guigang 3 Road, Dongshan Kou, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou, China. The exhibition will continue through September 30, and selected sculpture from the exhibition will also accompany us to the Canton Art Fair, in October.
Leona Craig Art is a gallery of a different kind of Chinese contemporary art, focusing on fine art with more subtle social commentary from well-known Chinese artists, in modern oil and watercolor painting, sculpture, Yixing teapot art, and Xiangxiu embroidery art. The curator of the collection is Craig Mattoli, who has been involved in both art and professional investment for several decades.