QM Talks | Summer 2018 | Arnold Chang: What is contemporary ink?

25 August 2018 

Arnold Chang is a Chinese art curator, researcher, scholar, and teacher of Chinese painting and connoisseurship, Arnold Chang received traditional literati painting training in his early life. He applies the materials, tools and techniques that were widely used in China since the 10th century to create; and is dedicated to exploring the beauty of balance in water, ink, brushwork, and linear rhythm. His work includes ink linear experiments, abstract landscape, and collaborative works that combine photography and painting.


While Chang’s painting technique adheres closely to tradition, his analysis of Chinese landscape painting is informed by the present. He continues to find contemporary relevance in the brushwork and composition of literati ink painting. In 2010, in response to curator Hao Shen’s invitation to create a painting in dialogue with a work in the Boston Museum of Fine Art’s collection, Chang chose Jackson Pollack’s No. 10 (1949). Chang’s creation was exhibited alongside the Pollack, both lying flat in a case like a Chinese handscroll. Both works read well when viewed from any direction, and provided audiences with a visual pairing of Eastern and Western abstract art.


In his scholarship, Chang proposes that both the techniques of Chinese literati painting and westernabstract expressionism possess a similar principle—fractal expression, Chinese painted landscapes’ tendency to be composed of forms within like forms.HenceforthChang analyzes orthodox Chinese painting from the lens of Western abstract expressionism. He explores the ever-changing viewpoint and angle of vision in Chinese landscape painting and argues that there is no fixed viewpoint, creating, instead, a non-directional image in space. In the realm of abstract expressionism, Chang still practices traditional Chinese literati painting’s principle of handling the brushwork in a balanced and fused manner while breaking away from the limitations of traditional compositional structure.


Chang studied art history with Professor James Cahill and holds a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado. Chang studied painting and connoisseurship with C.C Wang for twenty-five years. He also studied painting with Kuo Yen-ch’iao in Taipei and calligraphy with Wang Chi-yuan in New York. Chang served for many years as Vice President and Director of Chinese Paintings at Sotheby’s, where he is presently a consultant. Chang has previously taught Chinese art at the University of Colorado, San Francisco City College, Connecticut College, and Arizona State University. He has organized several exhibitions, and is the author of a book and numerous exhibition catalogues and articles on Chinese painting. Through years of work, research and connoisseurship experience, he has established an individual artistic style.


Chang’s paintings have been exhibited internationally and are in the permanent collections of many museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, British Museum, Asian Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Brooklyn Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, Norton Museum of Art, Crocker Art Museum, Yale University Art Gallery, Princeton University Art Museum, and Harvard University Art Museum.


August 25, 2018, 2:00 p.m.

65 East 80th street, ground floor, New York, NY, 10075