Beginning this Friday, the Pacific Grove Art Center located in Pacific Grove, California will host a ten-year retrospective on the fine artist, Warren Chang. There will be forty-six of his original paintings on display. The dates are from April13th to May 24th. All of his best works, hand selected by Warren himself, will be arranged for public viewing.
The opening reception will be on Friday, April 13th from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. Warren Chang will be present. This will be a rare opportunity to meet the artist while surrounded by his paintings. (See the links at bottom for directions and the PG Arts Center website.)
In conjunction with Warren’s showing will be a selection of paintings by his father, Namgui Chang, featuring “Scenes of Old Monterey.” This first exhibit of his art will feature 25 of his paintings spanning the last 50 years. Namgui’s exhibit will be held in the Annand Gallery, also within the PG Art Center. Namgui will also be present during Friday’s reception.
There will also be copies available of Warren Chang’s book Warren Chang: Narrative Paintings (Flesk, 2012) throughout the five-week exhibit.
On a personal note, I have viewed some, but not all, of the paintings that will be on display. I am very eager to see forty-six paintings all in one place. I find Warren’s paintings to have a warmth to them. Each subject is rich with his specific palette of colors and honest narrative. I feel Warren’s paintings define what the meaning of being “genuine” in painting is. I am looking forward to marveling at his work. The opportunity to view such an abundance of his original work direct and up close is something not to be taken for granted. Combine this exhibit with the beauty of Pacific Grove, and neighboring Carmel and Monterey, and you have all the ingredients for a wonderful day.
The following is the official text detailing the Warren Chang and Namgui Chang exhibits with information about the artists.
About Warren Chang and the Exhibition:
Warren Chang:Narrative Paintings is the first retrospective of this acclaimed American realist as well as the largest collection of his paintings ever exhibited, many on loan from private collections.
Born and bred in Monterey, California, Warren Chang (b. 1957) graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena in 1981, where he earned a B.F.A. in illustration with honors. He thrived for two decades as an award-winning illustrator in both California and New York, when he transitioned to a career as a fine artist starting in the year 2000.
Chang has become renowned for his art since his transition to fine art 12 years ago, earning many awards and honors, which include induction as Master Signature member of the prestigious Oil Painters of America, the largest organization of oil painters in the United States. He is one of only 50 to receive this honor. His awards also include Best of Show awards in the Salon International in 2003 and the Raymar Contest in 2009. In addition his work has been profiled in many publications, including the covers of American Artist and International Artists magazines accompanying his articles on instructional painting. Now based in his Monterey studio, he is an inveterate and popular teacher, currently affiliated with San Francisco’s Academy of Art University.
His work can be categorized into two main categories of biographical interiors and his paintings of fieldworkers. His interest in interiors reach right back to 16th century artist Johannes Vermeer, and include subjects of self-portraits, family, friends and students in the interior environments of his studio, classroom and home. His intent is to create mood and emotion through his manipulation of light and use of close value relationships and subdued color.
Perhaps best known for his paintings of fieldworkers from the Monterey County area, this subject harkens back to such forerunners as Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Jean-Francois Millet, Winslow Homer, Eastman Johnson and Thomas Hart Benton. Chang’s depiction of unidealized fieldworkers are unsentimental, yet at the same time celebrate the human spirit. Chang admits being inspired and influenced by the novels of John Steinbeck; books he read in his youth as well as the general ambiance of growing up in Monterey.
Coinciding with this exhibition of his works, is the publication of a 112 page monograph book, Warren Chang: Narrative Paintings on his work published by Flesk Publications, Santa Cruz, California. This handsome coffee table book covers the majority of this exhibition and more, with essays by art dealer Steve Hauk, New York social realist Max Ginsburg and the president of the Allied Artists of New York, Thomas Valenti. Chang’s commentary on his own paintings can be found throughout the book.
About Namgui Chang and the exhibition:
Namgui Chang (b. 1925, in Korea) has been a lover of art and music throughout his life, drawing and painting since he was a young man. Even today, at the age of eighty-seven, his artistic interests have not waned, and he continues to paint using various media and styles more than ever. He has been a life-long student of history and philosophy, but he has never formally studied art. He graduated from Seoul University in 1949, and came to America as a graduate student in U.C. Berkeley in 1950. When the Korean War broke out later that year, he joined the faculty of the Defense Language Institute. After his wife and eldest son arrived in the area, he settled in Pacific Grove where he raised his family including Warren Chang, his youngest of four children, who became a professional artist. Chang senior continued his post-graduate work as a part-time student in U.C. Berkeley, and received a PhD in Linguistics. He retired from his job in 1990, at the age of sixty-five, so he could enjoy his true passions of life–reading, painting, listening to music, and strolling in the forest and coast-lines with “Monty” and “Baby blue,” his beloved Scottish terrier companions.
Art, for him, is beyond anything, a timeless universal means of mysterious communication among mankind. The artist reveals his vision from his inside, not from the outside like in ordinary talks. We get the totality of what an artist presents all at once, directly, and exhaustively. It is something inexpressible by ordinary language or concepts. Even poetry and literature, though they use words, cannot be understood if one takes anything literally or discursively. Art has its own logic, unfolding, developing to its conclusion.
What of artistic geniuses among us? Art certainly requires extraordinary talents, geniuses. But in his opinion, geniuses belong to all of us, otherwise, how could we understand their works at all? When we appreciate and celebrate geniuses among us, we are all artists together. A genius has an enhanced consciousness with imagination to see the universal in particulars, by wiping off dusts and smudges of given regional and time-bound cultural irrelevances. Art has no boundaries.
In his view, art may even be part of “the thing-in-itself,” as Kant, Schopen –hauer, and others grappled and struggled to identify the underlying “reality” for the world of sense-perception, the human phenomena. He believes, with Schopenhauer that the artist and viewers alike must suspend the immediate worldly concerns and expectations driven by “will and desires,” by cleansing of our consciousness, through meeting the tragic condition of human existence or by heightened vision of the beautiful. He wonders, “Could it be that art is a bridge between the empirical world and the world beyond?”
Text copyright © 2012 John Fleskes. Artwork, photo and Warren Chang and Namgui Chang press releases copyright © 2012 Warren Chang and Namgui Chang respectively.
Pacific Grove Art Center website
Pacific Grove Art Center directions
Warren Chang: Narrative Paintings book details
Warren Chang Interview by John Fleskes