Pan He Sculpture at Leona Craig Art Gallery, in Guangzhou

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Pan He Sculpture at Leona Craig Art Gallery, in Guangzhou

Even people, who have never heard of Pan He, immediately know him when one mentions one of his many famous sculptures. Of course, it may be that only a discerning few know his name, at all, since most of his work is on a grand scale, displayed in museums or public spaces, and smaller versions are made in very limited quantities and are, usually, presented as gifts to friends and acquaintances, rather than being sold to collectors. Naturally, that is exactly the reason that we are so excited to have a number of his works in the Leona Craig Art Gallery, in Guangzhou, China.

Born in 1925, Pan He traveled to Europe and began his artistic career when he was in his teens. In fact, some of his earliest works are watercolor cityscapes of European cities. His well-to-do family encouraged him to pursue his calling, and today he is one of China’s most recognized sculptors. His sculpture, “When I Grow Up”, was chosen, in the early 1950’s, to tour the world as the artistic representation of the new PRC. He was selected to make sculptures of Mao Zedong and Marshall He Long for their respective hometowns. His “Fisher Girl”, a giant stone sculpture, sitting just offshore, is a symbol of Zhuhai, the sister city of Macau. His “Five Rams” is the city symbol of Guangzhou, and his “Bull Uprooting Old Wood” is the symbol of Shenzhen, the sister city of Hong Kong.

Pan tells us that he only makes sculptures when he has something to say, although he says things in very subtle ways. His sculpture of Mao Zedong portrays him as the young idealist who set off from Hunan Province to join the revolution, in Guangdong. As some high-ranking officials disapproved of his portrayal of the “Chairman,” he was jailed for his efforts and subjected to daily torture. In his sculpture of Madame Curie, he depicts her as naked and missing her hands to convey a sense of helplessness, in that her discovery of radioactivity would ultimately lead to the atomic bomb. It is the same sense of helplessness that Pan says he, too, often feels, as he looks at the world around him. In his sculpture of Marshal He Long, who was a hero of the Communist Revolution but whom Mao let rot in jail as an enemy of his state during the Cultural Revolution, he has a diminutive copy of the Marshal’s horse nuzzling his leg. Pan’s wry commentary is that even the horse knows his master is a hero. In his Shenzhen bull, the bull is uprooting deadwood, and Pan notes that you can see that the bull’s front leg is already tiring because the task is so tremendous.

Pan makes sculpture out of his love for the art and for the force of statement that he can make with his art. Moreover, unlike too many contemporary artists who only care about the money, it has never been about the money for Pan He. In fact, he gives away most of his smaller versions of major sculpture. He even made a second version of Mao Zedong, a few years ago, at the request of the central government, free of monetary charge. Instead, he asked for and got a letter of apology for his treatment after he made his first sculpture of Mao. Indeed, he told us that he does not believe that his sculpture should be in a gallery but shared with everyone, like all of the large public sculpture, all around China, attributed to him. He was even shocked that we were able to acquire one of the very few copies of his “Young Mao Zedong”.

Pan was recently honored by the Guangdong (Canton) Provincial government for his contribution to and achievement in sculpture with the dedication of a sculpture park and museum of his works, in an older section of Guangzhou, which is slated for a renaissance as a new cultural district. The sculpture park is pretty well stocked, mostly with original casting models of his sculpture, and its layout, as Pan explained to us, follows the course of China’s development from the mid-1800’s to the present, albeit through wry, artistic social commentary. The ground is being leveled for the multi-story indoor museum.

Pan He’s sculpture is currently on display at Leona Craig’s L. C. Yilang (Art Gallery), in the Dong Shan Kou area of Guangzhou, 11 Guigang 3 Street. We have assembled a diverse little collection of his works, including some important pieces, and we are expecting more to arrive over the next several months.

L. C. Yilang is a gallery of fine Chinese art, including paintings, sculpture, xiangxiu embroidery art, and Yixing zisha teapot art by contemporary artists. Craig Mattoli, the curator of the gallery’s collection, has been involved in the art business, as well as investment in inefficient markets, since the early 1980’s. He also teaches finance and economics at a major local university.

For more information, contact:
Ayu Chen, Guangzhou, China: 86 136 3240 7809
Craig Mattoli, Guangzhou, China: 86 136 3241 0877
Website: http://www.leonacraig.com

11 Gui Gang Three Road, Dongshan Kou, Yuexiu district,
Guangzhou, China 510080
广州市越秀区东山口龟岗三马路11号
086 020 37625069

Posted by: Leona Craig Art Gallery

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