Pan Gongkai was born in Hangzhou in 1947. Today, he is a renowned artist, scholar and educator who has played a leading role in the development of the two most important arts academies in China, serving as the former President at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou (1996-2001) and the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing (2001-2014). Currently, Pan is a Professor and PhD Tutor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Beijing, and at the School of Philosophy, Fudan University.
Influenced by his father Pan Tianshou (1897-1971) who was one of the top Four Masters of Chinese Painting in the 20th century amongst Huang Binhong, Wu Changshuo and Qi Baishi, Pan Gongkai developed in-depth knowledge and understanding of the Chinese Literati Painting Tradition. During the Cultural Revolution, Pan Gongkai’s father had been accused for crime as a "Reactionary Academic Authority". In consequence, Pan Gongkai was punished as the son of a Reactionary Academic Authority and banished to a barren village for 8-year "Reform through Labor" retribution.
In the early 1980s, Pan Gongkai returned to his normal life and invested himself in studying and practicing traditional Chinese art and its history. Particularly occupied with the recent and rapid explosion of Western influence on China in the last century, Pan's works explore the intersections and divergences between Eastern and Western art traditions. By combining elements of both perspectives, he presents a new relevancy of Chinese brush and ink painting in today's world. This fusion of Chinese and Western techniques, once viewed as completely divergent artistic practices, resulted in a series of work that did not seek to reconcile the differences between the East and West, but rather adapted and merged to reflect a global perspective from present-day China.
Pan’s installation work Melt was exhibited in the Chinese Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale, and his ink paintings Lotus in Wind and Snow Lotus Figure were exhibited at Palazzo Bembo at the 56th Venice Biennale. Pan also curated and designed exhibition displays in the Chinese Pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai as General Director and General Curator.
His solo exhibitions have been widely hold in major museums and institutions in the United States, Europe, China and other Asian cities. They include the San Diego Museum of Art (San Diego), the Frye Art Museum (Seattle), the Phillipe Briet Gallery (New York City), ZKM (Karlsruhe), the Oxford-Brooks University Gallery (Oxford), the Museum of Sorbonne University (Paris), UNESCO Headquarters (Paris), the Museum of Tokyo Art University (Tokyo), Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall (Taipei), the Hong Kong Arts Center (HK), the National Art Museum of China (Beijing), the CAFA Art Museum (Beijing), the Today Art Museum (Beijing), the China Art Museum (Shanghai), the Long Museum (Shanghai), the Guangdong Art Museum (Guangzhou), etc., with works widely collected by all but not limited to the above major museums and other private institutes and individuals.
Pan Gongkai’s publications focus on topics on Painting History and Theory (especially Literati Painting), Modernity and Globalization, and Design and Architecture, e.g. Brush and Ink in Chinese Painting, Chinese Painting History, Sixty Years of Art in China, Limit and Expansion: Reflection on Modern Chinese Painting, Pan Tianshou's Talk on Art, Painting Art of Pan Tianshou, the Complete Pan Tianshou, The Boundary of Modern Art, The Road of Chinese Modern Art, Four-isms and the Modern Transformation of Chinese Art, Self-awareness and the Inquiry of Chinese Modernity, Modernity and the Autonomy of Chinese Culture, The Modern Transformation and the Artist Perspective, Imagery-Block City Design, Generation and Construction: Architecture Design by Pan Gongkai, etc.
Due to his contributions in art, humanities and social sciences research, he has been awarded "Intellectuals with Special Contribution" in 1991, the National Outstanding Expert in 1997. He has been awardee Honorary PhD by San Francisco Fine Art Institute, US, Maryland Institute College of Art, US, Glasgow University, UK, and Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Canada.
Pan Gongkai is one of the most unique artists in the Chinese art scene today with his comprehensive training, extensive knowledge and profound study. He has achieved great accomplishments in art education, Chinese painting, art theory, contemporary art and architectural design.