As a “Social calligrapher”, Pan Jianfeng has been working 17 years as a visual artist in Shanghai, China. He moved to the old town of Porvoo, Finland in 2016. The self-chosen exile to Finland can be seen as his reflection on city life, intertwined with struggling for survival and meaning as an artist.
Working as a PHD researcher at The Modern Calligraphy Research Center, China Academy of Art, Pan Jianfeng has titled his art practice as “Global Writing”; a new way of looking at calligraphy (basic knowledge of writing and a philosophy of life, created by intellectuals in Chinese history) by integrating our social contents.
Pan Jianfeng creates new characters and images through ink writing. In his art he uses calligraphy and Eastern writing, one of the most traditional artistic approaches, radically as a tool – as a third language – to criticize modern city life. His art practice, from the studio to the public space, enacts the political while challenging the split between west and east in contemporary context.
Some thoughts for or before the exhibition:
When Pasi contacted me about the exhibition in Vaasa,
I looked for the city on Google Earth.
It looked like a perfect place to visit during the Finnish summer and I told myself,
don’t forget to check how far it is to swim to Stockholm.
After moving to Finland four years ago, I have mainly made images in black and white.
Pasi seems to like them, maybe because he paints in black too,
Or because we all have to face the long dark winter.
But I have learned to appreciate this season.
It feels like a milk spa or a white daydream.
My big black drawings made Pasi tremble.
Spring arrives after Pasi’s visit, and suddenly I feel like using color!
After a heavy storm, I made my own water pond with local stones.
Working with stones makes me happy.
“A field of five color stones,” one friend comments.
In the past, Mother god used them to fix the broken sky.
Text by Pan jianfeng 8th June 2020 porvoo Finland