Pan Hsinhua was born in Taimili of Taitung County in 1966. He graduated from the Department of Fine Arts at the National Institute of the Arts (currently known as Taipei National University of the Arts) in 1991 and held a teaching position at Taipei National University of the Arts as an assistant professor between 2011 and 2015. The exhibition “Arcadia Curiosities – Pan Hsinhua Solo Exhibition” at Asia Art Center is Pan Hsinhua’s third exhibition in 2017; Pan Hsinhua was invited to exhibit in “Crisscrossing East and West: The Remaking of Ink Art in Contemporary East Asia” curated by Chia-Chi Wang at Yinchuan Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as “Memories Interwoven and Overlapped: Post-Martial Law Era Ink Painting in Taiwan”, the grand exhibition at National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts curated by Chao-Jen Wu. Pan Hsinhua was also invited to exhibit in “INK REMIX: Contemporary art from mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong”, curated by Dr. Sophie McIntyre at Canberra Museum and Gallery ACT in 2015. As far as contemporary ink art in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea, or even considering the art development in the period since the lifting of martial law in Taiwan, Pan Hsinhua has become an irreplaceable force for his uniquely brilliant artistic language.
Pan Hsinhua grew up in Taitung before the age of twenty, but moved to Penghu before eventually settling down in Hualien. Apart from the years spent studying and teaching, Pan has enjoyed most of his life in the nature of the countryside. From his idyllic childhood to his passion for the woods and rivers and streams… these ideas have all sedimented and layered in his works. For instance, the moths, the mossy green trees, the mutated plants, old houses overgrown with vines… even the scenic view of Suhua that boasts a symbiotic combination of slope protections and nature, the abandoned steel boats by the riverside, or a tree on top of a tree – these are artistically-manipulated fantastical spaces, deeply rooted within Pan Hsinhua’s most intimate life experiences. It is as if Pan Hsinhua has re-envisioned a landscape approach that is distinct from our expectations or a common, pre-conceptional way of viewing. His work thus constructs an arcadia-like but bizarre scenes that seem improbable yet prevails in the end.
The Progressive Chapters in Painting
Pan Hsinhua has attempted multiple experiments in ink, but set aside his already adept brush and ink technique after 1990 and arrived at meticulous painting with bold coloring. On one hand, he modifies papers to purposefully mimic ancient murals and colored landscapes, mottling the surface with age; on the other hand, he is constantly introducing new elements and subjects from his immediate surroundings into his paintings in order to speak more directly to life. After his solo exhibition at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in 1999, he abandoned outlining the contours and incorporated more non-realist techniques to further distance his work from the traditional realist works. Since his traditional medium differs from the West, especially in that the overlapping of objects and colors are difficult to positively isolate, he simply forwent the laws of classical perspectives and the established logics in our everyday reality, and created a spatial configuration that bears similarity to ancient maps and primitive art. Thus, images derived from various artifacts, religion and traditions along with landscape architecture, human figures, beasts and insects, peculiar plants… all objects in this vast world are incorporated and placed within the image more freely to form a unique style that lingers between the past and present, ambiguous and difficult to precisely define.
The most discernible image in Pan Hsinhuas’s work is the peculiar children with the most precocious, stern, and equivocal expression on their faces. “I wish to bring sarcasm and ridicule with a touch of humor, allowing the protagonist to mock tradition or poetic narratives pretentiously, or letting a child proceed with some form of a ritual performed in the adult world in a serious and genuine manner.” To interpret the symbols as they are being the most facile way of viewing, Pan instead uses oblique dry humor to illustrate, avoiding a direct response to some rigid forms of traditions. The classically bizarre yet genuine depictions in his paintings, in fact, accentuate the distance between reality and
the past, just as those pretentious mock-scenes of past literati, mockeries on the poetic narratives and the arcadia that dissipates into the distance of reality, or that fleeting childhood. He consciously raises a question in his dry but humorous manner to stir up emotions of ambiguity and suspicion.
A Brief Summary
In response to the question of “what form of new language should a contemporary artist develop?”, Pan Hsinhua believes in the layers of distance – near, middle and far – in concepts; the richness of ancient paintings lie in a far distance away while the memories he depicts are in mid-distance. His memories brim with sentiments of a contemporary man, thus giving rise to such unique artist whose perfectly distinct style brilliantly illustrates the crucial proposition of “the contemporaneity of ink” at the same time.