the Chinese calligraphist Pan Jianfeng creates art at Helsinki Airport

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Chinese contemporary artist Pan Jianfeng has designed posters that illustrate Finland and Finnishness using modern calligraphy for Helsinki Airport operator Finavia. With his work Pan tries to describe Finland to Chinese passengers. Helsinki Airport is a leading European hub in air traffic between Europe and Asia. Measured by the connections to Asia it is the fifth biggest airport in Europe.

This autumn, visitors can watch a fast-paced graphic design performance at Helsinki Airport. The results are arresting, but the message of the texts might not be clear to everyone. The language used in the posters is Chinese, and the method used by the artist is calligraphy. The artist in question is the versatile Chinese multimedia artist Pan Jianfeng.

–  In my art, I try to describe Finland to Chinese passengers. Finnishness is one of those things that you cannot buy, like a clean environment, sisu, Finnish heroism, the design of your own life, and natural miracles such as the Northern lights. They can be witnessed when you least expect to see them, Pan explains.

Pan is the founder of design company SHTYPE and an independent visual artist, who has worked both as a chief design officer and a professional in the fields of typography and graphic design. The artist has a client list that includes international brands such as Coca-Cola, Nike and WWF.

While working on a number of projects related to Finland, Pan fell in love with the country, and he recently moved from Shanghai to Porvoo, a small city of 50 000 residents near Helsinki.

–  For some reason, I feel like I’m at home here. There are many similarities between the Chinese and the Finns. For example, both respect nature enormously, Pan says.

Helsinki Airport, which embodies Finnishness, speaks to the sincere artist.

–  As soon as I arrive at Helsinki Airport, I regain my strength after travelling. You can even hear birds sing in the men’s room. The time difference and long queues disappear. No wonder many of my friends fly via Helsinki, Pan says.

Passengers departing from Helsinki Airport can watch Pan Jianfeng working at on 24 August near gates 34–35. Pan is inspired by a poem by Chinese poet Guo Moruo.

– In China, Finland is known as the country of thousands of lakes, because almost every schoolchild knows Guo Moruo’s description of Finland. Water is an important element for me. Here, my child can drink clean water straight from the tap. It is incredible, Pan says.

Growth from China

Helsinki Airport is a leading European hub in air traffic between Europe and Asia. It ranks as the fifth largest airport in Europe by the number of Asian connections. In 2016, the airport services 17 direct destinations in Asia, of which five are in China. In addition, it has connections to almost all major European cities.

The number of Chinese passengers at Helsinki Airport increased by approximately 50 per cent between 2014 and 2015.

– We have invested heavily in improving our services for Chinese passengers. We have, for example, increased the amount of Chinese-speaking airport staff and Chinese signs at the airport, and few months ago we opened our own account to Chinese social media channel Weibo. We aim to make the passengers experience for our Chinese passengers as smooth and easy as possible, says Ville Haapasaari, director of Helsinki Airport at Finavia.

Chinese are the fourth biggest nationality at Helsinki Airport.

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