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Pan Tianshou’s Studio and Gallery
"Follow your inner moonlight; don't hide the madness." -Allen Ginsberg
Along the beautiful West Lake shore, there are many culturally alluring tourist spots, but how disappointing to see how congested the lakeshore was. Instead of throngs of people, I hoped for lush weeping willows and gigantic lotus leaves occupying the lakeside landscape. While driving through the West Lake area, I searched for a place on a smaller scale but still highly inspiring culturally. After asking for a recommendation, I was directed to visit an old painting studio and residence of Pan Tianshou.
Chinese painter, art educator and art theorist, Pan Tianshou was one of the most important traditional Chinese painters of the 20th century. However, soon after the start of the Cultural Revolution in 1965, Tianshou began to be persecuted, and continued to be until his death in 1971.
His former residence is small in a western standard style, but with respect to its political period, the studio felt comfortable and imbued the warmth of the artist. Now the home has been converted into a museum, complete with a contemporary gallery within the compound, which even houses a coy pond.
Through its discreet entrance, a small gate with a Chinese plaque indicating Pan Tianshou's studio, I was greeted with an intimate courtyard, much like a garden. Passing through the gate and into the lush courtyard felt like a warm welcome in contrast to the busy roadways of West Lake. As soon as I stepped inside the studio, I felt peaceful and sensed a distinctive artisan was awaiting my arrival.
Much of Pan's works were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution; however, a few remaining works, along with his intimate personal photographs and a small number of personal belongings are displayed, as if he were still living there.
With many options for departing his homeland, Pan decided to remain in China, scarifying his passion to paint. At times, we find inspiration not only in the artists' works but also in their lives and convictions, which can awake our stalled creative motivation. With its beautiful background scenery unfolded by the West Lake, I can clearly picture Pan Tianshou's undying love for his country while noting his inspiration.
Traveling outside of Shanghai in Hangzhou, one must step aside to experience the lesser known, but more regionally inspiring places like the residence of Pan Tianshou, and learn about the local artists.