Theodore Chang presents his first solo exhibition titled: “To Your Younger Self” at Foley Gallery in Lower East Side, NYC from Sept.29 to Oct.9

Theodore Chang’s first solo exhibition reflects the unconventional path the South-Korean artist has taken to artmaking. At the same time, the thirteen mixed-media paintings on view at Foley Gallery uncover his intention of revisiting the curious and unrestrained way in which he once viewed the world. “The inspiration for this show is to have people connect with their inner child and their childhood. To get a rush of nostalgia to go back when they had no obligations and expectations that were set on them,” the artist says. For Chang, his childhood is extremely meaningful as when he was just 12 years old he lost his father to cancer, and relocated with his sister to the United States to start a completely new life. “When I channel my childhood, I think I am going back to a time when everything was more harmonious and before things got a bit chaotic,” the artist explains.
Theodore Chang has had anything but a typical journey to where he is now. While studying Computer Science at New York University he was constantly exposed to art but started painting when he resettled to Dallas for his first job as a software engineer at IBM. This experience made him miss all the art he has taken for granted in New York and explore his artistic skills. Since his first painting in Texas, Chang has continued to evolve his craft which now heavily relies on intuition and improvisation, something opposite to his day job as a coder. However, while apparently distant, Chang’s multifaceted background informs his artistic practice as he can condense three-dimensional shapes and generate abstractions of his thoughts and experiences. Furthermore, Chang’s creative mind has also proven valuable in his tech corporate setting as he was named Invention Leader at IBM leading a 100+ person organization to generate new intellectual properties just a few months into his career.
(Source: Garrett Cardoso. Photographer)
Nowadays, Chang still works as a software engineer, currently at Microsoft, and has been living as a digital nomad for close to a year, residing mostly in Portugal and Mexico. “Traveling has been a huge influence for this exhibition as it has kept me in my childhood-like state where every day I learn, see, hear and taste something new.” Next to this, the autism diagnosis the artist received midway through his 20s has also impacted his practice. “Many people don’t realize not all autistic people are like characters from Rain Main or Forrest Gump. There are a lot of us that have learned to adjust to blend in with society,” the artist shares. Adding, “Understanding autism has helped me understand myself enormously but that is a whole separate story. To give just one example, one of the traits of an autistic person is that we fixate on details and can sometimes dismiss the bigger picture.” All this reflects on Chang’s painting style as he frequently portrays flat and schematized figures, such as dinosaurs or alligators, detached from their context or has a cubist approach on canvas, the latter of which also stems from his admiration for Picasso. In this way, throughout his pieces, Chang oscillates between figuration and abstraction and creates an alternate world where everything seems possible. His world has its own logic. It is spontaneous, honest, and innocent. It is free of obligations, “I believe one of the reasons my childhood memories are so dear to me is because back then I didn’t care to recognize my differences from others or feel society’s pressure to fit the expectations of what a normal person should be,” Chang says.
Overall, Chang’s new exhibition is an illustrated open letter to the artist’s inner child and a way of blending together his multifaceted personality. Many of the paintings featured in To Your Younger Self carry a positive note, while few of them include a subtle critical commentary. “I want the viewers to walk out of the gallery with a little smile on their face from the trickles of memory they were able to connect with from the exhibition,” Chang affirms.
For more information please visit the artist’s website.
General Information:
Address: Foley Gallery, 59 Orchard St, Lower East Side, NYC, 10002Exhibition dates: Sept.29 – Oct.9, 2022

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