Artist & Work

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Tang Chang

Born in 1934, deceased 1990, Thailand



Of Chinese heritage, Tang Chang represents an important figure in Thai modernism. Self-taught, he was active as a poet, drawer and painter. His abstract paintings from the late 1950s and early 1960s, a time when abstract expressionism engulfed the US-dominated side of the Iron Curtain, were deeply influenced by Chinese traditions of calligraphy and the relationship between images, words and matter. Through heavy brush strokes typical of Chinese painting, combined with the materiality of paint that defined a decade internationally, a complex artistic figure emerges: he never fully resolved his status of an outsider in a country where identity and an often caricatural representation of Thai-ness are at the core of the discussions in the cultural realm. He is also the author of highly conceptual, imaginative and intellectual poems. Somewhere in between his paintings and poems are a series of drawings produced from the 1970s and employing suggestive words in Thai script, forming graphic compositions akin to concrete poetry. The path from Chinese calligraphy to the manipulation of the graphic qualities of the Thai language and script contain a strong political dimension, commenting on the upheavals in Thai society of that decade.


The presentation of Tang Chang’s works at the Shanghai Biennale has been organized together with David Teh.