Pan Gongkai Online Exhibition –Series Exhibition of Museum’s Collection of Ningbo Artists



Ningbo Museum of Art has collected near 30 pieces of Pan Gongkai’s artworks, which are themed with “lotus pond”. Majority of these artworks were created for the national touring exhibition – “Still waters following deep – Exhibition of Pan Gongkai’s Work”. Pan focuses on the differences between Chinese and western fine arts as well as the researches on the modern transformation of Chinese paintings. He studies how to combine the traditional Chinese paintings with modern aesthetics and modern spirits and how to express people’s inner spirits in current Chinese cultural atmosphere with Chinese paintings so as to achieve the imagination of “green paintings” – the future Chinese paintings which convey the organic harmony of men and nature, men and society, men and ego. These topics are constantly lingering in his mind. His artworks are created based on these.

Delving into these collected artworks, we could find that Pan tried to cleverly integrate the composition principle of western art on the basis of the traditional ink and brushstrokes in Chinese paintings to reinforce the sense of form of images, realizing the win-win required to inherit the traditions and satisfy modern aesthetics. In this online exhibition, the curator starts from “forms” to unveil Pan’s art charm.

Pan Gongkai | About the artist

Credit to:

Pan Gongkai (1947 – ), born in Ninghai, Zhejiang province. He served as President of China Academy of Arts from 1996 and President of Central Academy of Fine Arts from 2001. He is a doctoral supervisor and used to serve as Vice President of China Artists Association.

Since 1979, he has been engaged in Chinese painting creation and teaching art history. In 1991, he was awarded as “intellectuals with special contribution” by the nation. In 1992, he visited Berkeley University in USA to conduct researches. He was offered an honorary doctorate degree by San Francisco Art Institute. In recent 20 years, he published various academic papers in major domestic journals.

Points, Lines and Planes

“Points” are the smallest elements in a painting. The movements of “points” make “lines”, while the movements of “lines” make “planes”. “Planes” have length and width which “points” and “lines” don’t have, and planes with closed outline are objects with shapes, providing a sense of accuracy and protruding. Therefore, “planes” are vital! In these collected artworks, the artist painted lotus leaves as “planes” to become the main character of the images; the heart and seedpod of lotus as “points”, floating on top of the images, or staying inside corners, or hiding under lotus leaves; lotus stems and line-shapes lotus as “lines” to connect the images. Planes, points and lines are indispensable parts in his artworks which unify rhythms and rhymes.

Delights in Lotus Pond, 97×60cm, Chinese painting, 2006

Painting interpretation: In this painting, the artist used lotus leaves, flower and seedpod to form an interesting image of the pond. He made the front leaf and the seedpod as two planes, serving as the two perspectives. With the stem as the line, he cut the image and connected different parts. The lotus nuts and seeds, serving as points, correspond to each other. The whole picture seems to be dynamic and interesting.

Lotus by the South of Home, 136×136cm, Chinese painting, 2006

Green Top, 97×60cm, Chinese painting, 2006

Pure Rhyme, 97×60cm, Chinese painting, 2006

Painting interpretation: Pure Rhyme shows us the special functions of “lines”. The long lotus stem leads the atmosphere of the painting. The stem leads the sight to two ends, one being a withered leaf, another being several touches of brushstrokes. The leaves form the planes, hiding the white lotus flower behind. The petals, casually painted with light ink, form strong contrast to the black lotus nuts. The theme is thus highlighted on paper.

Black, White and Gray

In these artworks, the artist also attached importance to the composition of black, white and gray.

Lotus and Harmony, 97×60cm, Chinese painting, 2006

Painting interpretation: In this painting, the artist broke the traditional composition in Chinese paintings. He put the subject at the center without spaces. The subject is a lotus leaf with strong light and shade contrast. The dark gray covers a majority of the subject, while the light part is painted with relatively light ink lines, making the picture serene and thick. A white lotus hides behind the leave, with black lotus nuts as separating points. The petals, painted with light brushstrokes, seem to dance with the wind. There are several black blocks at the front left side between the white lotus and the leaf, which make the picture vibrant and correspond with the nuts. The whole image is a rectangle, locating at the center of the paper. The gray, while and black are used at 6:3:1, realizing a neat yet flexible painting. It is a true “harmony”.

A Midsummer’s Dream, 180×617cm, Chinese painting, 2005

Joy of Brushstrokes

Wild Wind and Strong Wind are special among these lotus-pond-related paintings. The first impression of “wind” is the vague yet powerful air. It is invisible and impalpable. During creation, the artist adopted a way of expression similar in Starry Sky of Van Gogh – using the rigidity and mobility of brushstrokes to convey the swiftness of the strong wind and the casualness of the wide wind with the help of things in a lotus pond.

Strong Wind, 97×60cm, Chinese painting, 2006

Wild Wind, 97×60cm, Chinese painting, 2006

Enlarged Silence

There are also several artworks convey serenity and loneliness collect at NMA. They are mostly painted in portrait with the subject located at the golden section point.

Late Autumn, 136×136cm, Chinese painting, 2006

Standing Alone in Autumn Water, 136×136cm, Chinese painting, 2006

Cold Autumn, 97×60cm, Chinese painting, 2006

Naturally Integrated Inscription

The artist’s inscription also reflects the influence of western art composition. His inscription, more like western style inscriptions, is naturally integrated in the paintings.

Unstained, 136×136cm, Chinese painting, 2006

Morning Delights, 97×60cm, Chinese painting, 2006

Ripe Fruits, 136×136cm, Chinese painting, 2006

Content in Autumn, 136×136cm, Chinese painting, 2006

Pan Gongkai, first of all, is an art theorist. He has profoundly considered the future development of Chinese paintings and applied into practice. For these collected artworks, the artist not only controlled the “forms” to combine the Chinese and western art, but also inherit the ink and brushstrokes in Chinese paintings, delivering a contemporary visual effect rarely found in Chinese paintings. They have lighted the development of contemporary Chinese paintings. It’s also where the value of these artworks lies.


Unauthorised reproduction is prohibited.

Unauthorised usage of pictures of NMA collections is prohibited.

Translated by: Fan Xinyi