Triumph Gallery ispleased to present “Seeing the Forest through the Brush – Pan Jian SoloExhibition” on May 5th, 2018 at Triumph Gallery. This exhibitionwill present Pan Jian’s works created during 2013 to 2017.
Branches, leaves and trees are seems as thefirst and most obvious things that we can recognize on the recent works by PanJian. However, all you can see is paint on a canvas that is organized in a waythat it appears as if one would see a leaf, a branch, a tree. But, If no onelooks, are there trees on Pan Jian´s canvasses?
This is the paradoxin Pan Jian’s painting. His works radiate an energy that transcends thephysical “tree-ness” and transport the viewer into another dimension. Veryreduced in color, the artist’s new silver and grey paintings create a sensationof early morning twilight in a forest when there is just enough light again tosee things in shades of grey. The paintings have that heightened sense ofawareness that happens sometimes when dawn arrives after a sleepless night – andthere is this incredible silence.
Daoist and Buddhistideas became very influential in the West in the 1930s, when D.T. Suzuki andAlan Watts started teaching in the USA. Consequently Asian philosophy becamedeeply inspiring to a group of artists that moved away from representationalpainting traditions in order to catch something much more immediate, andguiding everybody towards the search for pure energies. In an interesting twistChinese artists today look at Western art for guidance, when an older generationof Western artists were inspired by Asian traditions in literature, calligraphyand ink painting. Abstraction in art (and more specifically un-representationalpainting), it seems, needed to go full circle to arrive now again in the worksof Contemporary Chinese artists. So it is not surprising to see Pan Jian pusheshis work more and more into abstraction until whatever representational tracesleft in the paintings become pure manifestations of the painting process.
He has devised hisvery own particular way of painting mostly using Chinese brushes. Upon closerobservation one can see that there must be a very complex process that involvesbrush strokes, dripping of paint, blowing of dry pigment and washing andsprinkling with water. What is not so obvious at first is his use ofphotography, or more precisely a sense of photographic performance inpreparation of his works. His assistants carry empty canvasses outside by nightlooking for trees next to street lamps. The artist then takes photos of theshadows that the trees cast directly onto the canvas. The trees in Pan´spaintings, their nightly shadows ever so gently touching the canvasses for amoment, before the brush does its transformative magic.
As a person and asan artist, Pan Jian is deeply rooted in two worlds. While his painterlypractice can completely be described in the context of a Western oil paintingtradition, there is a very Chinese sensibility at work behind the scenes.Chinese landscape is the background in front of which he develops his work.Each of his large-scale paintings feels like a fingernail-sized detail of atraditional Chinese landscape. It is like getting incredibly close with theelements inside a traditional landscape … a movement which reveals the minutestof details: leaves, branches and trees …
It is impossible tosee his paintings for just a few seconds and believe to have understood them.The works require you to slow down and open up. Spending time is an essentialpart in the experience of the works. The paintings want to be seen up close andthen again from a far distance to reveal their complexity to the viewer.