Pan Tianshou Chinese

Not on view

After teaching painting and art history in Shanghai in the early 20s, Pan Tianshou went to Japan to study new pedagogical methods. He returned convinced that the salvation of Chinese painting lay in serving its own principles, not the techniques and media of foreign ateliers. Writing in 1926, he attributed the interest Chinese painters had in modern European painting to increasing tendencies in the West toward Chinese purity of line and color and "spiritual taste". He opposed the New Culture Movement of the 30s, and his paintings are the most compelling argument for his case that Chinese tradition offers the means for a truly modern Chinese style. They reflect his study of the carved-line calligraphic scripts; he shows himself rooted firmly in the lineage of Zhao Zhiqian and Wu Changshuo, the latter a friend in Shanghai. The boldness and emotional intensity of his work belong wholly to the 20th century.

The poem that accompanies this painting reads:

The glistening dewdrops have formed on the jade screen.
Reflection from the resplendent lotus turns the leaves to read.
Liulang [the lotus] is so dissolute when drunk.
who put him into the green tent?

[Trans. Ellsworth et al, Later Chinese Painting]

Lotus, Pan Tianshou (Chinese, 1897–1971), Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper, China

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