Interview with Pan Jian

Situated in the outskirts of Beijing, an artist studios district immersed in the green, Pan Jian's space opens up a metaphysical world of blue (check out our Studio Visit page for more photos). During a beautiful sunny day we had the pleasure of spending some time with the artist, a reserved, friendly and intellectual man who shared insight about his art.

Dagmar Carnevale Lavezzoli: Pan Jian, you often depict forests in your work, using both subtle and vibrant colour palettes. Forests have been a constant theme in your paintings over the years. Your depiction of the hazy mist, the meticulous texture and the chaotic silhouettes of branches and leaves. What do these sceneries mean to you?
Pan Jian: The mystery, complexity and composition of forests are in line with my views on life. They seem to subtly reflect the enigma, intricacy and unpredictability of this world.
Dagmar Carnevale Lavezzoli: From your current and previous works, we can see your interest in capturing either the contrast or the harmony of lights and shades. You are an artist, as well as an oil painting professor at the Xi’an Academy of Fine Art. From an artistic and academic point of view, how important are light and shade in your work?
Pan Jian: Light and shade are the most important factors that make up the image. For me, there is a constant refinement with regards to the relationship between these two elements, it is the central theme and the core of my work.
Dagmar Carnevale Lavezzoli: When an artist captures a moment of life, a scene of nature on the canvas, he is given the chance to relive and recreate that moment. Do you consider this part of your artistic process as you paint?
Pan Jian: What I present is a fragment of the process, not the outcome. The creation starts with a specific image, and is transformed into a background by adding layers.
Dagmar Carnevale Lavezzoli: Going back four or five years ago, most of your works were created through a monochrome and dark palette. On the other hand, your recent body of works selected for ‘Rose Mist’ present more vibrant and vivid colours. What has inspired you to make such a change?
Pan Jian: I’ve been exploring uninhabited forests through dark, muted colours for several years. This has been a personal path, an introspective research. Life is a constant transformation… Engaging with a variety of brighter nuances and shades came quite naturally to me.
Dagmar Carnevale Lavezzoli: In our previous conversations, you’ve mentioned that one of your worst memories was that of destroying a piece that you’d worked on for three months; and your best memory was that of completing the same piece after another three months. Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? What can lead you to destroy your own paintings?
Pan Jian: I measure the quality of my works based on the balance of the actual results and the conceived ideas, and I cannot accept whether they are too close or too far apart from each other.
Dagmar Carnevale Lavezzoli: Who is the artist that inspired you the most?
Pan Jian: Yves Klein.
Dagmar Carnevale Lavezzoli: Many people find your work calming as it has a profound and meditative quality. It is able to create a visual refuge for the viewer. Is this something you’re deliberately attempting to achieve?
Pan Jian: The intention of my creation is to find a serene space where I can immerse myself while also enriching my intellect. And if this can affect others positively, then I feel I’m going in the right direction.