Lokal Creators / Pan Jianfeng

Pan Jianfeng is a conceptual artist working predominately with paper and ink. His background and techniques are rooted in tradition, but his works are strong and contemporary. He exiled himself to a medieval Finnish town, Porvoo, after 17 years working as a graphic artist in Shanghai, and committed to rediscovering himself as “son of calligrapher”. Having devoted himself to brush practice, he seeks ways to develop new social mediums to enable spiritual growth and facilitate future human communication beyond languages and cultures. We visited his home studio one early spring afternoon to learn more about his works in our Year of the Rabbit exhibition (31.3.–30.4.2023).

Lokal Creators / Pan Jianfeng

Pan Jianfeng is a conceptual artist working predominately with paper and ink. His background and techniques are rooted in tradition, but his works are strong and contemporary. He exiled himself to a medieval Finnish town, Porvoo, after 17 years working as a graphic artist in Shanghai, and committed to rediscovering himself as “son of calligrapher”. Having devoted himself to brush practice, he seeks ways to develop new social mediums to enable spiritual growth and facilitate future human communication beyond languages and cultures. We visited his home studio one early spring afternoon to learn more about his works in our Year of the Rabbit exhibition (31.3.–30.4.2023).

“People call me Pan. I am originally from Shanghai. I mainly work with ink and paper. I think this most fundamental material, or most humble material, can deliver probably most meaningful images. Basically I don’t have this idea of a piece of canvas. The daily life is like a piece of paper. It’s going on, again and again and again, like everyday life, and so, it’s a huge paper, actually. What I have to do is to create a certain kind of… sometimes I call it reason, and sometimes I create a kind of situation to create something people call art. So I don’t really paint anything; I use ink and paper, I only paint the background. So I’m a background painter. Like I said I try to create a kind of situation, allow an image to grow from the paper, from the ink.

So you create an image from the void. Every time when I start to… sort of paint, I have to make sure I have a void mind. So I have to empty my mind. It’s a whole life process. It’s a little bit like the Buddhist idea of suffering. So I try to suffer less by trying to understand the suffering through artwork.

Our artistic training started from my earlier childhood calligraphy practicing. So we grew up in this kind of image bank, which… actually it’s characters. So every Chinese character, can be seen as an image, or picture. There are lots of symbolic meanings behind our different images in this world, from our standing. Every element is this world carries a certain kind of message, and this message can be illustrated as a character. And the character is an image so image is a universal language. That is why I guess I can survive in the West. 

If I have a life mission, it is to destroy this square of the character. So I want to destroy the structure of this language and try to bring this writing, the calligraphical technique, to a visual world, to the contemporary art field, for example.” –Pan Jianfeng

Shop: Pan Jianfeng’s Works

Explore: Lokal Creators

Lokal Creators / Fanny Tavastila

Fanny Tavastila is a painter who lives and works in Helsinki. We visited her studio at the Cable Factory one dark November afternoon to get a closer look at her works, which posess an innate and lyrical sense of colour, rhythm, texture and composition.

Lokal Creators / Hanni Koroma

Hanni Koroma is an award-winning Finnish interior architect and furniture designer. In her work, Koroma combines functionality and aesthetics into timeless entities where her philosophic values in sustainable and playful design meet. Koroma says that space is like a poem that evolves constantly. Her new Lohkoja cabinets are centrepieces of our summer exhibition Butterflies & Seeds. 

Lokal Creators / Minna Arponen

Minna Arponen is a jewellery designer and maker from Helsinki. Recently, she’s been fascinated by the tiny glass beads that she used to play with in her childhood. We visited her studio where most of her pieces take form, if not in her lap on tram rides through the city.

Lokal Creators / Aimo Katajamäki

Aimo Katajamäki is an artist, illustrator, and graphic designer. His superhero wood sculptures depict human nature in a subtle and delicate way. We visited his studio just a few blocks from Lokal as he was carving his new pieces for the Year of the Rabbit exhibition.