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November 13, 2011

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Sculptor tackles massive themes

IT is rare for a sculptor to be given a solo exhibition in Shanghai as transporting and installing the pieces are often a laborious process.

But LeVant Art Centre is hosting "i Sculpture 2011," an exhibit featuring the work of Pan Kai from the past decade.

Unlike some Chinese sculptors who prefer to fuse a certain scenario into their sculptures, usually a narration, Pan's work explores the ambiguous relationship between man and nature, such as green clouds made in bronze or a small labyrinth made of stainless steel.

"I like using stainless steel as it is visually eliminative and is also contemporary," the Beijing native says. "But stainless steel is also eternal. These two extremes interest me."

This exhibit's main feature is a cluster of sculptures of dogs made of resin. The sculptures are larger than actual dogs and placed on a stand.

"These are quite different for me," he says. "Usually my work is more abstract. But in these pieces, I explore the relationship between man and dog. Usually we lower our head to look at dogs. But here, I put them at the same level as our gaze. All dogs are derived from wolves. In order to become the friends of mankind, they discard their original wildness or some other primitive things."

Another work that Pan created in 2011 uses bright pillars with titanium plating.

The sculpture is forceful and seems to be about discarding established rules and ideas.

A graduate from the national Central Academy of Fine Arts, Pan admits he is fortunate to be still making sculptures. Now in his 30s, he says many of his classmates had to quit because of financial difficulties.

"Unlike painting, sculpture demands a certain amount of money for materials and labor at first," he says. "For a new sculptor without any recognition, it is hard to get exposure, which makes it difficult to sell your work."

Pan says he spent nearly 300,000 yuan (US$47,241) on creating his sculptures upon graduation in the late 1990s.

"I borrowed a large sum from my parents," he says. "You can imagine the pressure on my shoulders. But compared to many artists in the area, I am lucky. It worked out and I can continue to live on as a sculptor."

Date: Through November 30, 10am-5pm

Address:4F, Bldg B, 28 Yuyao Rd


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