Arts and Culture

Shani Gilchrist



Something to look at: Eastern rigor meets western free form at Hartsville Gallery

Posted 9/24/2013 1:02:00 PM

Recently, my husband and I chose “Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry” for one of our movie nights at home. We were both fascinated by the lengths artists had to go through to express themselves or to claim rights that we take for granted here in America. This sentiment sprang to mind when I heard that the latest exhibition at Coker College’s Cecelia Coker Bell Gallery would feature the paintings of John Chang.

Chang is an artist who was born in Shanghai, China, where, during his youth, he would see propaganda plastered to walls in the country’s public squares. The posters used the same symbols that students of Chinese classical calligraphy spend hours learning to paint flawlessly. In the show that went up this week in Hartsville, the paintings take the symbols of Chang’s youth and force them to share space with frenetic energy. The artist, taking inspiration from abstract expressionist painters like Jackson Pollack, makes bold statements with the juxtaposition of rigorous form against the free-consciousness form employed in the West.

Chang’s works have been exhibited at the Alexander Brest Museum at Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, Fla.; Julina Togonon Fine Art, San Francisco; Fresh Paint Art Gallery, Culver City, Calif.; and S Cube Gallery, Laguna Beach, Calif. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in visual art from The Art Institute of Boston and a Bachelor of Arts in decorative arts and design from Shanghai Light Industry College.

If you’ve ever been curious about the ways Chinese artists express themselves in reaction to the country in which they were raised, this is not an exhibit to miss. The exhibit will be on view through Oct. 18. The Cecelia Coker Bell Gallery in Hartsville is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during regular semesters. For more information please visit the gallery website.