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Rachel Cohen

Tang Chang Calligraphic Blue

Tang Chang Calligraphic Blue

Tang Chang, Untitled, 1975. Courtesy of Thip Sae-Tang. Detail photos Rachel Cohen.

Something about the blue in the Mary Cassatt I was looking at yesterday and the calligraphy in the Persian miniature I looked at before that made me think of an extraordinary calligraphic blue that I witnessed in a show at the Smart Museum of Art a couple of years ago.

The show was called Tang Chang: The Painting that is Painted with Poetry is Profoundly Beautiful. Tang Chang (1934-1990) also known as Chang Sae-Tang painted and wrote poetry in Thailand.

In the 1950s, he moved into gestural abstraction, not because of the international art scene, but out of the demands of what he was at work on.

He painted in a way that meditated on writing, and he wrote poetry, and he made poetry-drawings. There are nice exhibition materials and a small booklet-catalogue on the Smart Museum website linked below.

I mostly photographed one painting. Untitled, from 1975. It's a large painting. 81 7/8 by 96 7/16 inches, so nearly seven feet tall and 8 feet wide.

I spent quite a bit of time sitting with it, and I remember at one point walking a group of students through looking at it. There was a sequence of impressions, places that seemed to call for attention.

I found it uplifting, invigorating. I felt like I was really learning by looking at it.

for Issa Lampe