Bufan is the artistic duo of Pan Long and Tian Yiran, two graduate students of oil painting at the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts. Pan and Tian have been friends since high school, but their decision to form an art group is more recent.

“Bufan” shares a similar pronunciation to “extraordinary” in Chinese. Pan and Tian also chose the name because “it sounds like ‘fun’ and has the deeper meaning of ‘capturing the daily life.’”

For Pan and Tian, painting was their sole joy in childhood even though they came to the arts by different paths. Pan attended art class at a young age while Tian taught himself and won praise from peers. It wasn’t until they entered university that they began to understand how art had become part of their lives.

“In university, both of us started to realize that art is really art. Now we see it as a form of self-expression,” Pan said.

Bufan’s art is focused on fantasy. Stars, geometry and lush plants are their favorite elements. Their work Hard Candy features a main figure inspired by the movie Hard Candy. It features a little girl giving a curious look to the shapes above her. Bufan said the work mimics the anxiety and curiosity in her heart when facing the world.

“Our work usually presents a situation that blends fantasy and dreams. I think art loses its attractiveness when it is too realistic. Individual thinking and self-awareness are two things we hope the stress during creation,” the duo said.

Bufan released their art collection Bufan Fantasy Book 2016 on their profile page at Artand. The collection’s main idea is to highlight the intersection of fantasy and reality in the thoughts of China’s young adults born in the 1980s and 1990s.

“We’re living in an information age. Sometimes, the messages I get just show themselves directly by picture. I combine the messages I receive and reconstruct them to use for drafting,” Pan said. Tian’s way of combing information is a little bizarre: he gets his inspiration from half-sleeping.

Although a majority of Bufan’s art is based on dreams, the duo has also created a few more realistic pieces in their early years. These are collected in the Bufan album “The Walking Eyes.” When asked about why those works are not so dreamy, the artists called them the “root” of their fantasy world.

“‘The Walking Eyes’ are not just paintings of street views. Each image assembles disparate pieces that reflect our mundane world. It is not copying, but re-creating it,” Pan said.

The artists selected Undercurrent as the work that best represents themselves. They said they believe everyone has experienced the feeling of looking toward the future and reminiscing about the past on late nights.

In future, they plan to paint more works to enrich their “fantasy book” collection. Art installations and sculptures may join their collected works as well.

Their bigger ambition is to see a world where dreams can be extracted from fantasy to form a new space. Instead of fighting the real world, they hope their art can imagine a better world in which people have greater freedom.

Karena Hu

About Karena Hu

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Karena was born with the English name Karen but decided to add an “a.” She dreamed of a career in astronomy, but bad scores in physics kept her out of the science department. She seeks other worlds in reading and writing and is a super fan of the Hunger Games trilogy.

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