Pang Jiun’s Unquenchable Artistic Flame

Vin de Fleurs, Pang Jiun, 2019
Sprint in Blossom, Pang Jiun, 2020
The Elephant Rock, Pang Jiun, 1978
A Room with a View, Pang Jiun, 2023
An Autumn’s Tale, Pang Jiun, 2023
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pang Jiun, 2023
Pang Jiun during his public painting exhibition
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A Legacy Ignited: Echoes of the Storm Society

Pang Jiun doesn’t just paint; he breathes life onto canvas. “It’s an inexhaustible passion,” he declares, and this passion is on full display in the Asia Society Hong Kong Center’s Beacon in the Storm: The Art of Pang Jiun.

The exhibition is a dialogue between generations. Three distinct chapters unfold: sketches from the 1970s, contemplative landscapes echoing the literati spirit, and vibrant still-lifes where colour reigns supreme. Each brushstroke, whether meticulously placed or expressively free, reveals the evolution of Pang Jiun’s artistic journey.

But repetition, for Pang Jiun, isn’t stagnation; it’s a canvas for innovation. He paints the same scenes again and again, each iteration a testament to his ever-evolving techniques and artistic expression. At 87, his ambition burns brighter than ever. “As I age,” he declares, “my future paintings should surpass those of my past.”

The Dance of Brush and Canvas: An On-Site Performance

This relentless pursuit of artistic renewal was on display during Pang Jiun’s on-site painting at the Asia Society. For weeks, he transformed the gallery into his studio, wielding brushes like a maestro conducting an orchestra of colour. Visitors and students watched in awe as he breathed life onto a monumental canvas, layering symbols, vibrant hues and expressive marks. This wasn’t just a painting; it was a conversation, a culmination of his artistic lineage and a testament to his boundless creative spirit.

A Beacon Lit by Family: The Legacy of the Storm Society

The roots of Pang Jiun’s artistic fire lie in his family history. His parents, Pang Xunqin and Qiu Ti, were pioneers of the Storm Society, a group of young artists who dared to infuse Western influences into Chinese art. Their revolutionary spirit ignited a new era, altering the landscape of modern Chinese art.

Pang Jiun’s childhood, however, was marked by turmoil. Born amidst political upheaval and war, his family was constantly on the move. Despite this, his parents nurtured his creativity, his mother instilling a love for literature and poetry, and his father encouraging artistic exploration. This fertile environment nurtured Pang Jiun’s talent. By five, he was painting portraits. By twelve, he held his first exhibition.

A Life Woven with Art: Seven Decades of Passion

Throughout his life, Pang Jiun’s journey has woven together personal milestones and artistic growth. From teaching art in Beijing to venturing to Hong Kong and Taiwan, painting has been his constant companion, a language that transcends borders and speaks of his inner world.

“Every painting represents my experiences, my feelings: they depict everything I have ever witnessed or scenes that have deeply moved me.”

Pang Jiun

“Every painting represents my experiences, my feelings,” he says, “they depict everything I have ever witnessed or scenes that have deeply moved me.”

And he yearns to create more. “I cannot afford to stop; I have to keep painting all my life,” he declares. For Pang Jiun, painting isn’t a chore; it’s the very essence of his being.

The Unwavering Flame: Ever-Evolving, Forever Bright

Despite his advancing age, Pang Jiun’s artistic spirit remains undimmed. He readily admits his physical strength may wane, but “the skill in my hands remain undiminished, still present.”

His on-site painting at the Asia Society wasn’t just a performance; it was a testament to his unyielding pursuit of artistic renewal. As he danced across the canvas, his brushstrokes echoed the ambitious spirit of the Storm Society, proving that the creative flame within him burns brighter than ever. “Beacon in the Storm” isn’t just an exhibition; it’s a beacon of artistic evolution, a testament to the enduring power of passion and a celebration of the artist whose spirit remains young.

Text & photos Cammy Yiu