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Pan Tianshou
Updated:2017-11-03 16:32:00

Pan Tianshou (1897-1971), formerly named Tianshou, also named Dayi and Shouzhe, was a native of Ninghai County, Ningbo. Pan Dapin, Tianshou's father, was a scholar that passed the county-level examination at the end of the Qing Dynasty. Tianshou loved painting from a very early age, and many of his paintings in his later years were inscribed "By Shouzhe of Mount Leipotou" at the bottom. Mount Leipotou is a mountain in his hometown.
Mount Leipotou is about 4 kilometers away from Guanzhuang Village, with elevation of over 400 meters above sea level. It was said that it got its name because a Grandma Lei once subdued a genie here. A forest of stones in various shapes, as if being cut by knives and axes, is on the top of Mount Leipotou. Looking from afar, the stones are like cockscombs, or like the heads of lions, lofty and spectacular. At the foot of Mount Leipotou, there was a piece of hilly land owned by the Pan's. In his childhood, Pan Tianshou often worked on his family's land, chopping firewood or herding live stocks. When tired, he would lean on a tree for a rest, take out paper and brushes, and start painting the picture of Mount Leipotou. In time of intoxication by the drawing, he was not even aware of the rain that was drizzling. He loved his hometown as it was where he was brought up. He once said to his friends, "I am a stone on the peak of Mount Leipotou". Thus, he often named himself "Shouzhe of Mount Leipotou".
In his youth, in expression of his inspiration, Pan Tianshou once carved out a couplet with a knife, reading "With diligent cultivation in the field of art, the time for full display of the ingenuity is sure to come". Pan Tianshou is another art master after Wu Changshuo and Qi Baishi that enjoy great fame at home and abroad in the history of Chinese fine art. Not only his paintings are superior in artistic value, his personality is also outstanding and is credited by all. According to people familiar with him, Tianshou is an upright man easy to get along with. Even when offended or insulted, Tianshou would remain quiet and never try to avenge himself, following his motto of answering grudges in way of virtual deeds.
In the early winter of 1962, Pan Tianshou was back to his hometown. In the Hot Spring of Nanxi, he improvised the "Painting of Orchid and Stone", with a poem inscribed, which reads "For ten years, I have been wandering without rest; now I am happily back to my hometown. The fresh water of the Hot Spring is suitable for a clean bath, and I would like to see the fall flower blossoming the whole mountain."
Pan Tianshou spent the better part of his life in painting and teaching of painting. After founding of the People's Republic of China, he worked as Vice Chairman of the Chinese Association of Artists, and President of Zhejiang Institute of Art. He is good at freehand brushwork. His paintings on flowers, birds, mountains and waters have the style of the ancient masters like Xu Wei, Zhu Song and Shi Tao, as well as features of the modern artist Wu Changshuo. He is skilled in "creating suspense" and "breaking suspense" in the layout of his paintings. Radiating from his brushes is the splendor of gold and stone, profound and lofty. With appropriate use of different paints and colors his paintings as a whole exhibit innate strength. By integrating poems, calligraphy and pictures, Pan Tianshou establishes his own painting style. He is also good at painting people, and is expert in finger painting.
 Besides, he is also a theorist on painting history and the art of painting and comes up with witty remarks from time to time. In the Essays on Painting in Tingtian Pavilion, he wrote "A mountain loses its spirit without cloud, loses its peculiarity without stones, loses its elegance without trees, and loses its life without water", and "In painting, one should concentrate the mind, and hold the breath: with concentration of the mind, serenity is maintained; with the breath held up, preciseness is attained. One should be as serene as an old monk in meditation, and be as precise as a silk worm in spitting silk. The spirit and real fun of painting are from nature and beyond the brushes and paints". Many of his remarks were also included in works like History of Chinese Fine Arts, On Seal-carvings.


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