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Pang Jun (b.1936)

The People's Beloved Premier, Working Day and Night for the People

Pang Jun (b.1936)
The People's Beloved Premier, Working Day and Night for the People
signed, dated, and inscribed in Chinese (lower right)
oil on canvas
67.5 x 87.5 cm. (26 5/8 x 34 1/2 in.)
Painted in 1977
Acquired in Beijing in 1977 by the present owner
Quebec, Canada, Exhibition of Chinese Paintings, Calligraphy & Art Objects , sponsored by The Chinese Cultural Society of Quebec and The Pointe-Clare Cultural Centre, 26-27 October, 1985.
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Lot Essay

Growing up in an academic household, Pan Jiun studied the way in which Chinese traditional culture can be distilled and integrated creatively into western painting style from his father Pang Xun Qin and mother Qiu Di. After graduating from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1954, he was admitted to the Beijing Fine Art Academy immediately.During his tenure there, he was advised to paint landscape in the oil medium because those works could readily be marketed to the foreigners in Beijing and increase the revenue for the nation. As a result, he is one of the rare artists who could still practice their profession during the Cultural Revolution without adhering to the subjects of Party leaders and the revolution.
The connection between Pang Jiun and Premier Zhou ran deep: Zhou En Lai and Pang Xun Qin studied abroad together in France. In 1949, Zhou En Lai supported and entrusted Pang Xun Qin with the construction of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts. Pang Jiun and his family were deeply grateful for Premier Zhou's contribution and continual support for the arts education and cultural activities. The People's Beloved Premium, Working Day and Night for the People (Lot 15) is the sole portrait of national leader that Pang Jiun had painted.
Pang Jiun did not adopt the conventional Leader Painting style of executing a large, vertical format in red at the time. On the contrary, he saw the Premier as an ordinary person and portrayed him as an elder reading blue prints peacefully in the wee hours of the night. The fundamental key of this work is Pang Jiun's specialty - grey tones: the grey hair of the Premier is echoed in the blue grey on his Mao suit and the red grey on the map of China in the background. The books, blueprints, and teacup on the coffee table and desk reflect a rustic lifestyle. The big swaths of white bring balance to the colours by illuminating the grey tones. At the same time, the artist had professed that the bright white reflects the serene character of the subject. The greys in the painting symbolise the moderate and mild temperament of Zhou En Lai. The treatment of using tones as symbolism is the rarest of the rare during this special period.
Revolutionary Painting is a unique period in the new Chinese painting history. It has the mainstream criteria and form of the official style. Yet, Pang Jiun uses his signature tones to recall the humane sides of the leader. Such symbolism in portraying the personality of the subject is a return to Humanism. Pang Jiun is a trailblazer in the development of the latter part of the Chinese art history.

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