Carlisle Chang

B. 1921
D. 2001


Carlisle Chang was born on the 21st of April 1921 near the Croisee, the bustling cross roads in San Juan, Trinidad. His early art education included a correspondence course from the Washington School of Art, a two year study program under Amy Leong-Pang and a Master’s certificate from the New York Institute of Photography. A British Council Scholarship in 1950 enabled him to study poetry, painting and mural painting at the L.C.C. Central School of Arts and Crafts, London where he received the diploma in 1953 and won an Italian Government Scholarship to the Instituto Statale d’Arte for Ceramics in Faenza.
Chang returned to Trinidad in 1954 and opened his painting studio in Port of Spain the following year. The ensuing two decades were his most productive with more than ten murals in a variety of media, costume and sets for theatre and ballet, concepts and design for more than twelve years of Carnival and easel painting in water-colours and oils. His paintings were sought by collectors, both local and overseas and selected by curators for showings in Europe, the United States and South America. He holds the citation from the Press Club of Lausanne and is the only West Indian artist ever to have received the medal of the Bienal de Sao Paulo, Brazil.
In 1970 in the wake of social change, which brought to a halt all initiatives in art, Chang turned to handicraft as a means of inoculating craft techniques to workers including the physically impaired. He started Gayapa Industries Limited producing collectors’ dolls, embroidered hangings, copper repousse and carved wood items; creating designs from local folklore and popular culture. Official policy on handicraft proved unreliable and ambivalent, however, and the handicraft thrust faltered within the decade.
The artist started anew as an interior designer and numbered among his projects the Seetaram House, Santa Margarita, the Nigerian High Commission, and eight branches for the Worker’s Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, which collapsed in 1987.
Chang served as President of the Trinidad Art Society for Five years and finally faced the prospect of having to jump-start his career afresh after 1990. The 1997 CLICO calendar was a welcome catalyst and the current exhibition represents both a return to painting and a renewal which will be applauded by patrons of art. In these latest offerings the artist reaches into recollections of an earlier, more graceful time and images that emerge out of the folk culture. If there are discernible references here they may be redolent of the work of Hugh Stollmeyer, and sometimes visions reminiscent of Ruffino Tamayo.
H.M. Queen Elizabeth II
H.R.H. The Princess Royal
H.R.H. Princess Margaret and Mr. Anthony Armstrong- Jones
President Julius Nyere of Senegal
President Luis Echiveria Alvarez of Mexico
Prime Minister Indira Ghandi of India (Late)

1962-The Inherent Nobility of Man- Mural at Old Piarco Airport (destroyed in 1977)
Upper right hand corner depicts several figures each symbolic of successive waves of
immigration into Trinidad.  Right lower corner depicts the pressures and restrictions of society
on the efforts of the individual for self realisation and features the man that succumbs to the
environment and recreates him self through a return to the womb to recreate in turn his
environment in a resurrection (left section of mural). This mural with its relevance to our people could only
have been seen by those of us who went abroad and returned by air, thus it is safe to say that the majority
of Trinidadians have never seen it. At the end of 1977 the mural was destroyed by ‘developers’ seeking
to expand the airport facilities.A minister of government was quoted as saying that certain sacrifices had to be
made for ‘progress’.

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