An exhibit of work specifically created for San Diego by contemporary Chinese artist Pan Gongkai opens Friday at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park.

The exhibition will include six stunning new paintings, created specifically for the museum from the artist’s studio in Beijing.

Pan Gongkai at work. Courtesy of the museum
Pan Gongkai at work. Courtesy of the museum

The new art includes Noble Virtues, a 15-meter-long work, and Lotus Pond, a series of more intimate ink on rice paper paintings. Reading from right to left, Noble Virtues includes four poems in the artist’s distinct calligraphy and a vibrant depiction of plum blossoms, orchids, bamboo, and chrysanthemums.

The pairing of classical Chinese brush and ink techniques with more contemporary Western practices—once viewed as completely divergent—results in a series of work that does not seek to reconcile the differences between East and West, but adapts their unique qualities to reflect a more global perspective.

The works will be installed in Gallery 15 in the West Wing of the Museum, a public area adjacent to the May S. Marcy Sculpture Court and Panama 66.

Gongkai is one of the foremost contemporary Chinese painters working today. He is president of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, one of the most prestigious art schools in China, as well as the former president of the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou. Known for his study and practice of traditional Chinese art and its history, the artist has focused on the recent and rapid explosion of Western influence within China.

“As one of the most acclaimed artists working in China today, it is an honor to have Pan Gongkai contribute these new works,” said Roxana Velasquez, executive director of the museum. “The works add a new context to the Museum’s already world class collection of Asian art, and help us to further enliven the public spaces in and around our institution. We couldn’t be happier with this gift.”

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. It’s closed Wednesday.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.