THE RODNEY CHANG RETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION

(WORKS FROM 1967-1987)

 

The Sunday Star-Bulletin & Advertiser

Honolulu, March 15, 1987

by Marcia Morse

 

It would seem that the chef-d'oeuvre of Rodney Chang's artistic career has been the cultivation of his own persona - one is reminded of other personalities such as that of Dali. Works of art created, almost as a by-product, to this primary pursuit are less easily seen as objects validated by some kind of independent aesthetic criteria than as essential embellishments to an unabashed egocentrism. It is as if the decision to "be an artist" came first, then the object-making followed in order to provide the appropriate ambience and accoutrements.

Rodney Chang's 20-year retrospective includes lots of stuff, most of it self-indulgent, some of it quite inspired. Certain themes do tend to emerge (often more through titles than through the evocations of the works themselves) - anxieties attendant on personal relationships, anxieties about the uncertainties of a global future - indeed, in Chang's work, angst achieves a certain stylishness.

Where Chang has made the most significant contributions to visual experience is in the area of computer-aided or computer-generated art. A significant number of the works included in the exhibition, though labeled simply as photographs, are in fact images captured from the monitor screen of a computer graphics system. Chang seems least fettered by convention (perhaps because conventions are least established in this area) and manages to do some refreshing things with color, texture and manipulation of photo/video input images. It seems a validation of poetic justice that Chang finds his most convincing statement in an ephemeral, electronic medium.

 

Some of the works exhibited

 

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Note: Strong letter by the artist (a year or so later) arguing that her views were outdated for the times -due to too long a tenure (over 10 years)  as Honolulu's SOLE   visual arts cultural voice - was published in her newspaper's editorial section. Call it coincidence but Morse retired from the paper a month later after over ten years as its only art critic and writer (poetic justice indeed!).   Many artists over the years had their art ridiculed, however, but probably none more than that of Chang in this article.  :)