The Biggest PanTianshou’s Exhibition in History Opens

BY:Hu Xinyun

Edited BY:Hu Xinyun Photo by:Shen Bo


12 05, 2017

On December 1 in 2017, An Ethos of Fortitude - The Exhibition in Commemoration of Pan Tianshou’s 120thAnniversary opens in Zhejiang Art Museum, Hangzhou. Host by Ministry of Culture of the PRC, China Federation of Literary and Art Circles and the People’s Government of Zhejiang Province, the exhibition is the largest-scale in history presenting over 120 pieces of artworks by Pan Tianshou and his manuscripts.



Pan Tianshou is a master of Chinese painting, and an educator on art in 20th century. He was born in Zhejiang Province, and later took up the positions including president of Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now is China Academy of Art), vice-president of China Artists Association, and vice-president of Xiling Seal Engravers Society.


Pan Tianshou is creating a large piece of Chinese painting


Now the exhibition returns to Pan Tianshou’s hometown featuring contributions made by Pan Tianshou as an educator and a champion of traditional Chinese painting, its skills and spirits. It further presents Pan Tianshou’s creative thinking and practices on Chinese tradition to inspire artists nowadays insistence on culture confidence.


The exhibition composed of six parts: Inheritance of Conventions and Innovations, Peculiarity and Brightness, Flowers in Mount Yandang, Overwhelmingly Imposing, A Noble Character, and A Simple Life.


Inheritance of Conventions and Innovations

Pan believed that “those Chinese painters, who simply imitate ancient people without the slightest hint of innovation to bring glory on their ancestors, are purely silly descendants.” All great accomplished painters in history broke through the set patterns of their predecessors and made innovations their responsibilities.


Pan Tianshou absorbed the strengths of other Chinese painters. He harnessed the essence of all these masters and established a style of his own, surpassing his predecessors.



 Chinese Beautiful Landscape 72×30cm 1959


 Spring Drizzle in Regions South of the Yangtze River 85.8 × 77.2cm 1953


Peculiarity and Brightness 

Pan’s style is robust, majestic, extraordinary and peculiar, with a magnificent and beautiful inner strength that triggers soul-stirring results. He said, “Each painter has a different style and it is the difference that makes art.” The formation of a unique style “first requires a national style which differs from that of Western paintings; secondly it needs new creation and a difference from predecessors; and thirdly it should stand the judgment of the society and the test of history.”


Misty Rain and Croak of Frogs (finger painting) 68 x 135cm 1948


Joyous Fish Chinese painting (figure painting) 108cm x 57.5cm 1962


 Pine and Boulder 179.5 x 140cm 1960


Flowers in Mount Yandang 

From 1955 to 1963, Pan Tianshou visited Mt Yandang for several times, whose deep ravines and beetling cliffs and wild flowers offered him “supreme rough sketches” and Pan composed some of his pinnacle works based on the scenes of Mt Yandang.


Pan once said, “Wild flowers, mass of weeds and clustered bamboos in the ravines of remote mountains, tall or short, intertwined or disappeared, have a natural and wild quality, a fresh and elegant aesthetic conception, a gorgeous and non-secular character, which are all beyond imagination when compared to flowers in greenhouses”.


For Pan, Mt Yandang was not only a painting subject, but also of spiritual significance. From the ravines enveloping each other in Mt Yandang, he learned the beauty of arranging mountains, waters and flowers in an irregular way; from bluffs and cool waterfalls as well as strange rocks and ugly trees, he absorbed the solidity and firmness in brushwork and modeling.


Flowers in Mt Yandang 122 x 121cm 1963


 Scenery at the foot of Waterfall in Mt Yandang 107.8 x 107.5cm 1963


Overwhelmingly Imposing 

After the Song dynasty, traditional Chinese painting gradually lost its robust and fresh features. Pan’s stokes however, absorbed the vigor of the ink painting of the Southern Song dynasty and the robustness of the Zhe School while discarding their bluntness, thinness and rigidity. Pan developed a unique style which aimed at vigor and robustness. No theorist or painter has ever come up with such artistic ideas, and therefore Pan is distinct from not only ancient, but also modern artists.

Bald Monk 94.8 x 172CM 1922


 A Pavilion and Withered Tree 139.5 x 62cm 1961


A Noble Character 

Pan Tianshou was a firm carrier of cultural heritage. In the first half of the twentieth century, there came “a change in three thousand years in Chinese history” and he faced the challenges of modernity with a high degree of cultural consciousness, to rejuvenate the Chinese national spirit with his art and to re-boost the morale and lofty spirit of the Chinese people.


But also, he was a great innovator. He incorporated landscape techniques into the panoramic view of birds-and-flowers, and vibrant mountain flowers into the near landscape, for the creation of the momentous and magnificent format.



After Tillage 133.9cm x 270cm 1948


Buffalo in Summer Pond 142.7cm x 367cm 1960s


Brilliant Dawn 265cm x 685cm 1964, the largest one among current artworks by Pan Tianshou


A Simple Life 

“For all my life I have been a teacher, and painting is just an avocation,” Pan said. In 1928, he was appointed professor of the traditional Chinese painting in the National Academy of Art (nowadays China Academy of Art), and he stayed with this institution for the rest of his life. Half a century of his life was devoted to China’s modern art education. It was his sincere hope that Chinese painting in the new era, as a representative of EastAsian painting, could still stand proudly at the top of the world’s art Olympus.


Pan was upright, modest and lived a simple life. What he left behind for later generations is a book of life that deserves thorough reading.


Pan Tianshou and Lin Fengmian went Japan for inspection in 1929


Pan Tianshou taught students from department of Chinese painting in 1963


The exhibition will run until January 14, 2018.



Photo by Hangzhou Daily


Photo by Hangzhou Daily


Photo by Hangzhou Daily


Photo by Hangzhou Daily


Photo by Hangzhou Daily


Photo by Hangzhou Daily


Photo by Hangzhou Daily


Photo by Hangzhou Daily


Photo by Hangzhou Daily

Source: Pan Tianshou Memorial Museum 

Edited by Hu Xinyun