In the Spotlight: Paul Chiang: a lifetime in search of the light
“For the last 55 years, it’s been clear to me that each series is different; however, light remains the most important element that I want to express in my work.”
Every morning he wakes up at 4 or 5 AM excited to begin his latest creation as the sun comes up. He doesn’t leave his workshop until dusk. By night, he watches the light dance on the surface of the ocean while the moon rises.
Artist Paul Chiang has been creating art for more than half a century. He remained committed to forging his own path through continued metamorphosis across the covered window paintings of his younger years in Paris and New York City up until his critically acclaimed “Hundred Year Temple” series and “Pisilian” series, bursting with the explosive sunlight of Taitung, that he created upon returning to his native Taiwan.
Chiang has followed this singular path with an almost religious conviction that art can heal the world.
While in New York and Paris, Chiang’s work was full of deep blacks and rich colors. His paintings were infused with a lofty intrinsic power dedicated to exploring the mysteries of birth, death, and life. He would cover the windows of his studio and individually confront the big questions presented by his art. “The Notre Dame de Paris” and “Death in Distance” are representative pieces from this era.
Upon returning to Taiwan and settling in Jinzun, Taitung, Chiang’s work became much more colorful. “Many people tell me they see flowers, but I painted Taitung.”
Recently, he’s been working to convert his workshop in Jinzun into an artist’s retreat. He hopes to invite artists to participate in an artistic residency that would inspire greater creative possibilities. He modestly offers that, “This is an artist’s humble contribution to society.”
Artist and the City : CHANG Yung-Chieh: photographic vigils of an island village
“If we didn’t have cameras, then I might not have a way to understand the world.”– CHANG Yung-Chieh
1985: As a young girl CHANG Yung-Chieh started shooting “The Call of the Pescadores” series. People, especially older folks from her hometown, fascinated her. The warm and friendly nature of these old fishermen always touched her heart. Her art teacher told her, “Children, once you’ve all grown up, leave Penghu and never come back because this place is a cultural desert.”
She later moved to Taiwan island and spent many years photographing the tattooed faces of Atayal elders and recording the life of puppeteer LI Tian-lu. Why spend so many years photographing the elderly? CHANG Yun-Chieh found the answer during her time with the Atayal tribe: since they’re part of her grandfather’s generation, they all share a certain beauty.
1996: CHANG Yun-Chieh decides to return home but finds that her hometown has started to change. She’s surprised to find that she was so focused on photographing people that she rarely photographed the environment or nature, which had also started to disappear. She built a traditional home for herself, learned to plant the fields with her elders, and studied the ancient vocabulary of the Min-nan language to help her grandfather record his oral histories.
She started looking for local dishes and cooking techniques across various islands thanks to her nostalgia for the food of her childhood. She later published her photos and captions in “The Love of Food” a book she wrote in hopes that the stories of Penghu’s local delicacies will not disappear.
2017: CHANG Yun-Chieh decides to become a monk. The land and sea transmit messages about the vitality of Mother Nature and have become the objects she desires most to understand. This episode of Inside the Arts follows the intrinsic snapshots and the external photographs of her journey from a young girl on a small island to a devout monk.