b. 1948 in Shuili, Nantou County, Taiwan, lives and works in Taiwan.


In his paintings the Taiwanese artist Yahon Chang brings together traditional Chinese ink-wash painting and Western forms of artistic expression to produce a synthesis of East and West. Typically standing on large sheets of linen cloth or xuan paper and wielding a brush almost as long as he is tall, Chang creates works imbued with performative energy and characterized by large, sweeping brushstrokes. Drawing on Chinese literati and Zen (Chan) Buddhist traditions, the artist understands painting as an activity that connects body and mind. His entire body functions as an axis for these expressive paintings and is influenced by his training in calligraphy. 


In 2022, Hatje Cantz will publish Yahon Chang: Painting as Performance. Edited by Dr. Britta Erickson this scholarly monograph comprehensively documents Chang’s oeuvre through authoritative texts by international art historians, curators and critics. 



Excerpts from Yahon Chang: Painting as Performance:


“As he dipped his brush into the ink and pulled it back, intentionally allowing paint to drip randomly, a viewer might recall the film of Jackson Pollock famously shot through glass from below. Yet Chang’s action-paintings also pertain to a lexicon of calligraphy, to what Chinese literati (in general, prestigious scholars appointed by government, first named in medieval China) refer to as “xieyi,” which means to write (xie) the meaning (yi), abstract drawing that expresses the inner self, rather than describing outward appearances.” --RoseLee Goldberg, Founder and Director of Performa


“It is wonderful to think of all the dances of finger, hand, wrist, arm, torso, spine, hips, thighs, knees, calves, and every part of the feet that each of these brushes evokes—they are like the needle end of a cardiogram at different scales, capable of capturing the finest vibration of energy, the subtlest tremor of sense. Through them the body is both extended and grounded—capable of being both transmitter and receiver of all that being-in-the-world affords, both conscious and intuitive!” --Sir Antony Gormley, OBE


“While Yahon Chang sought formal education in Chinese brush-and-ink painting and has throughout his life found inspiration in the works of a panoply of historical painting masters, both Eastern and Western, his works defy categorization. Painted and performed in bursts of instinctual creativity, they cannot be judged in ordinary terms: they should be considered of the “untrammeled” (yipin) class. For over a thousand years, Chinese art history has maintained the untrammeled as a special category for artists who function outside the regular, codified desiderata of painting. An untrammeled painter does not respect the supposed apogee of brushwork and composition, instead making freely inventive use of the materials at hand. It is thought that such an approach to painting invariably reveals the quality of the artist’s character.”--Britta Erickson, Ph.D., curator and art historian


“A group of monks are descending the stairs in a group, leaving the main hall after finishing their morning prayers before dawn … the monks' faces in shadows or semi-shades appear in a variety of shapes that are far from realistic human faces. Some look like Buddha statues, others look like animals, and some look like African masks. Some of the monks' robes, which appear only as silhouettes in the dark, do not look like clothes wrapped around a human body, but look like cows or horses seen from behind … It is interesting that the artist expressed the joy of being as a kind of collective effervescence that is trans-individual. An affect that blurs the lines between sacred and profane, culture and nature, night and day, heaven and earth, manhood and animal, life and death dominates the entire picture scene. The Buddhist idea of transcendence in immanence resides consistently in the Yahon Chang’s painted oeuvre.”--Manu Park, D.E.A., former Director of the Nam June Paik Art Center in Korea


“Chang’s painterly gestures and drips embody a phenomenology of being and depict figures in a state of emergence, while at the same time referencing the artist as a body in action. His innovative art combines gestures that are concurrently figurative, performative, and expressive. With this unique and personal approach, he brings the surfaces of his paintings to life in order to explore the tension between origin and full embodiment, time and temporality, tradition and modernity.”--Maria Rus Bojan, international art critic and curator


“Yahon Chang breaks with the prejudices of human exceptionalism in his everyday life. His artwork challenges us to see all living beings as persons with inner worlds, emotional lives, cognition, affective bonds, and meaningful relationships—beings with selves and real lives. In this way, he joins a cutting-edge wave of contemporary scientists, ethologists, and philosophers who do this in their own disciplines, against the dominant discourse.”--Maya Kovskaya, Ph.D., international art critic and Anthropocene theorist



Yahon Chang recently completed public performances in Performa 19 in New York (2019), at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence (2019), and at Outset’s artist-in-residence in London responding to a space designed by spatial practitioners Cooking Sections (2019). Major solo exhibitions include Poetry of the Flow curated by Maria Rus Bojan at Manifesta 12 in Palermo, Italy (2018), The Question of Beings at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome (2016) and an official collateral program of the 56th Venice Biennale (2015), the Kunsthalle Faust, Hannover, Germany (2014), the Kunstforum Markert, Hamburg, Germany (2013), the Today Art Museum, Beijing, China (2013), the China Art Academy Museum, Hangzhou, China (2012), the Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo, Japan (2012), the Busan Museum of Art, Busan, Korea (2011), the MOCA Taipei (2011), the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (2008), the National Museum of History, Taipei (2005), the National Art Museum of China, Beijing (2005) and the Shanghai Art Museum (2000), among others. His artworks are included in the permanent collections of Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China, the Busan Museum of Art, Busan, Korea, the Piervittorio Leopardi and Lidia Berlingeri Collection, Rome, Italy and the Fondation INK Collection, Geneva, Switzerland.