Carlisle Chang for the record

Posted in Debate, Trinidad and Tobago by Adele Todd on September 30, 2008

The bookmann as, The Inherent Nobility of Man – A study of illusion and reality, parody, humour and humanity

The Artist Carlisle Chang was a national treasure, 1921-2001, and he really did not get the credit he deserved. He took on the task of creating a modern vision for an island state that had no idea where it was going in 1962. He sought to look at our culture and our past and meld these forms of iconography together to create the Inherent Nobility of Man.

This masterwork was one that was meant to stand for the ages for our country. It was the equivalent in some ways to Picasso’s Guernica. Not for being a representation of war and a hope for peace in a literal way, but of an idea and ideal of nationhood.

We take his work completely for granted, thinking that he was simply an artist of a period. Maybe it is the fact that the work of the time and the work of today do not seek to express such high ideals for any reason, as his clearly did then. Mr. Chang has left a remarkable legacy, but can we read about him freely in our libraries? Is his work preserved enough? Luckily there are a few pieces in very good condition that are still around.

In ‘Nobility’, Mr.Chang was embarking on a type of painting that was unprecedented at that time, to create a mural with specific overtones to nationalism, patriotism and statehood.
Mr.Chang’s painting of the warrior looking up to the sun with the wings of the Humming Bird, yet still earth bound suggests our own inability to sour within the easily won freedom of our age. When Nobility was made, he was looking at an uncharted horizon of a new born country, with all the hope and heart filled love of the idealist. To have that hope destroyed by his own people years later, certainly broke him and it arguably remains as the single worst case of conscious art vandalism and destruction in Trinidad and Tobago.

This work was lovingly attempted by his protégé,in his own humble attempt to right the wrong done. However, it is the original that holds the truth of an expectation that should touch us still today. – Adele


One Response

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  1. Alicia said, on October 9, 2008 at 12:25 am

    Again, Adele, keep up the good work!

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