Robert Pan

Biography

Robert Pan was born in 1969 in the North Italian city of Bolzano. He attended secondary art school in Valdagno near Vicenza where he graduated in 1987. He then left for Urbino, where he enrolled in the Sculpture department of the Accademia di belle Arti. He completed these studies with distinction in 1991. He then received several grants and scholarships, which enabled him to work in Paris, London and New York for several years. He currently works and lives alternately in Bolzano and Miami.

Although Robert Pan was educated to become a sculptor, he has chosen the two-dimensional surface for his artistic creations. But his materials do not belong to the traditional craft of painting. His creations are not supported by wooden panel, canvas or paper, but by a metal grid and his ‘painting materials’ are synthetic resin, a residue of petroleum. With a respectful patience for these materials and for the drying process implicit to his method, he applies dozens of monochrome layers of resin one by one on top of each other. Colour after colour they cover the surface like lumpy, shiny, semi-transparent veils. He then sands the layered surface open again in various places, which results in a mysterious landscape. An idiosyncratic and apparently independent process makes the different colours dimly visible. Forms of various sizes seem to emerge from this surface area like organisms, some of them marked by the underlying grid, which also filters through.

His method of working shows him to be a sculptor of paintings. He constructs the paintings. His major pictorial themes are space and material besides depth and transparency; he does not consider the paint he uses to colour the resin to be colour, but material. Even when he was beginning his work as an artist, Pan used to choose materials that had their own structure and demanded their own treatment. He worked with paraffin and wax and later he turned to copperplates, acids and aluminium powder to determine how his work will look. The reactions of the earthly materials make him aware of the patterns implicit in the universe, the microcosm and the macrocosm. For Robert Pan these patterns are also at work in the artist’s artistic process. The work of art is budding in his subconscious, and when it announces itself it is Pan’s duty to give the work shape and space. But Robert Pan believes it is basically the sculpture itself that chooses its own path. The artist is merely its medium.