Simply Nature 1997
by James C.W.Chae
CHAE, CHANG-WAN'S PAINTINGS
May 27~June 1, 1997
Birla Academy of Art and Culture
108, Southern Avenue, Calcutta - 700 029. INDIA
Simply Nature-A bird #2. oil on canvas. 156.5x129cms. 1996.
UNIVERSAL GRAMMAR OF FOLK ART
THE ECONOMIC TIMES
Sat. 7 Jun 1997
It is at once clear, even to the chance viewer. This art is very unusual, different from what is routinely seen, impishly inventive, very individual. It belongs not only to an artist with a vision, but also to a tradition where modernism couldn’t have settled down into grooves of academic -isms of the West.
It is the art of Chae Chang-Wan, a south Korea student at Santiniketan who held a Show of his works at the Birla Academy of Art and Culture last week. Could it be because he is Korean that, in terms of color and line, he has something fresh to offer; that he has not been swamped by established notions and practices?
Simply Nature-Clay Jar #4. oil on canvas. 162x129.5cms. 1997.
A quaintness of imagery, a playful and piquant wit, a capricious simplification, a palette of sedate tones that yet harmonize into a kind of offbeat rhythm, wry and teasing, make his art irresistibly winning. But it is difficult to pigeonhole Chae into any easy category.
He doesn’t immediately recall east Asian manners, unless it’s his expressive economy that you relate to his tradition. In fact, he brings to mind Klee’s quirky magic, or even, fleetingly, the enigmatic imagination of Rabindranath.
Simply Nature-In The Beginning #1. oil,stone-powder on canvas. 77x116cms. 1996.
Chae has not consciously helped himself to folk styles, he says. Yet, his minimalist vision, his way of reducing images to their semi-geometric essence goes back to the universal grammar of folk art. These attempts to read influences in Chae are only a way of weighing his art, for at no time do you feel he has been thriving off others.
Indeed, it is his unusual individualism that has the viewer groping for known references. To understand him better. Consider, for example, the colors he combines: deep chocolate and mustard, lavender and fatigue green, slate gray and ochre, in luscious, creamy, textured coats, where forms are suggested through outlines of frenzied, hurried scratches.
These forms may be no more than geometric patterns at times which carry light-hearted biomorphic suggestions. Or are, like in Seeking for the Longest, elongated into spry, primitive ritual motifs, as it were. An exhibition to remember. ■ By RITA DATTA
Simply Nature-In The Beginning #2. oil on canvas. 128.5x128.5cms. 1996.
Simply Nature-Mom. oil on canvas. 35x47.5cms. 1996.
Simply Nature-A Woman #2. oil,stone-powder on canvas. 77x116cms. 1996.
Simply Nature-A Woman #1. oil,stone-powder on canvas. 57.5x77cms. 1996.
THE ECONOMIC TIMES CALCUTTA (Sat. 7 Jun 1997)
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