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Gallery Tosei
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Tokyo 164-0011 Japan   map * 
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Images of Youth (1959-1961)
by Gallery Tosei
Location: Gallery Tosei
Artist(s): CHANG Chao-tang
Date: 4 Apr - 26 Apr 2014

From 1959 to 1961, when Chang Chao-Tang was studying at Cheng Kung Senior High School, he joined the school’s photography club. The faculty advisor for the club was Cheng Shang-Hsi, one of Taiwan’s major photographers at the time. Young Chao-Tang started excitedly composing scenes through his viewfinder, learning to arrange a photo and to capture an image from various different angles... From streets to schools to work sites, farm towns, rivers or beaches, from children, animals, passers-by or farmers to groups of laborers, Chang’s high school-era photos launched a nascent concern and fascination with common folk as subject matter.

During this period Chang Chao-Tang used an Aires Automat 120 twin-lens reflex camera that he borrowed from his older brother. When he took a picture standing up, his viewfinder was always around waist high, and when he squatted it came close to the ground; therefore, he took many photos with an upward angle. In addition, he was quite shy as a youth, and he particularly liked to get close to unguarded children at play, or find a sideways view from behind a grown-up, in order to avoid an embarrassing face-to-face encounter with an adult. These images, sometimes forthright and pure, sometimes a little lonely, revealed the world through the eyes of a precocious yet guileless youth.

The writer Roan Ching-Yueh said: “These rare early works reveal to us the silhouette of Chang Chao-Tang’s photographic creativity when he was just getting started. They show his innate character when viewing the world -- engaged yet observant, extremely calm, not removed yet not intrusive, with a faint atmosphere of doubt and questioning, behind which loomed a potent love for everything that exists. His was an unseasoned, slightly tremulous vision, somewhat expectant and bewildered by the world, a young and impressionable soul with a spontaneous, delicate sentimentality.”

Within the gaze of his youthful soul, Chang’s soft, tentative explorations indistinctly expressed a quiet zest for life and a broad vision. His smooth facility for lighting and composition demonstrated ambition and exceptional talent in creative photography. Not only did Cheng Shang-Hsi impart to him the knowledge and techniques of photography, but he also introduced him to Chang Tsai, another photographer of the older generation, and asked him to help tutor the gifted novice. They became the mentors that guided him across the threshold into the world of photography, inspiring his passion for the art form. From them he learned the virtues of simplicity, persistence and professionalism.

*image (left)
courtesy of the artist 
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