Friday, April 13 was the opening of Warren Chang’s ten-year retrospective “Narrative Paintings” at the Pacific Grove Arts Center. I met with Warren just over an hour before the opening reception that ran from 7:00-9:00pm. He was upbeat and basically himself. He expressed to me his happiness that the selection of his original works on display includes all of his major paintings. In addition, the hanging and presentation of them are professionally done and meet Warren’s approval. This combination all led to Warren being calm all throughout the evening.
As I was entered the gallery housing the forty-six original works, I further understood Warren’s relaxed demeanor. A large crowd was present in the rectangular shaped oversized room. A small island wall was present with two paintings on each side. A row of forty-two paintings wrapped around the four walls. As a bonus, Warren provided the occasional commentary–all of which read best when you view the paintings in order starting with the first painting as you enter.
As I continued within the gallery I felt as if I stepped into Warren’s real life environment in which his paintings depict. I could sense the richness of the vegetable fields and sweat of the migrant workers he portrays. I had to look behind me to make sure I wasn’t tracking mud through the gallery. I didn’t see his paintings, I entered them. From his studio works, to his portraits and self-portraits, and the occasional landscape, Warren gives us a sincere expression that is a joy to experience.
In the adjacent Annand Gallery, the first exhibit of Warren’s father, Namgui Chang, is running during the same time period. Paintings spanning five decades are present for your viewing edification. They are a beautiful array of landscapes of his Korean birthplace and of the natural wonders surrounding his Monterey home. I enjoyed how different these two artists view their subjects through paint. They cannot be compared, nor should they. Each artist has his own voice.
I encourage you to make a trip to Pacific Grove to view this exhibit. It’s easy to find, close to Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the viewing is free. It’s the perfect afternoon or day trip from the Bay Area. The exhibit runs until May 24th. They also have copies of our Flesk book, “Warren Chang: Narrative Paintings” available for purchase.
Text and photographs © 2012 John Fleskes. All rights reserved.
All art © 2012 Warren Chang and N Chang. All rights reserved. Photographed with permission.