Bear in mind Matthew Wong’s humanity.
Simply misplaced within the artwork market’s rapacious commodification of his work and the media’s makes an attempt to stereotypically mythologize his life, Matthew Wong was an individual. A superb inventive, a troubled soul–sure–but in addition a son, a pal, a painter.
Wong’s (b. Toronto, 1984–d. Edmonton, 2019) 4 brief years as a capturing star within the up to date artwork highlight obtain their first museum retrospective throughout “Matthew Wong: Blue View” on the Artwork Gallery of Ontario in Toronto by April 18, 2022.
Wong’s story completely fits clichés for these desirous about wanting no additional. The tormented self-taught artist–a modern-day van Gogh–who, upon receiving close to instantaneous glowing approval for his genius, snaps below the stress, taking his personal life.
An artist who shared such a deep vulnerability by his work deserves extra in return than categorization as a trope. Till now, that’s principally what he’s obtained.
Sensationalism round his suicide created a market feeding frenzy. His work was speculated upon as if he had been a scorching tech inventory. in October of 2020, his portray Shangri-La (2017) sold at Christie’s for $4.5 million, greater than 4 occasions above the asking value.
Wong grew to become the flavour of the week. Recent meat for the 24-hour information cycle. A brand new goal for market vampires to search out and flip. Up to date artwork disgraced itself when Wong died.
He ceased to be an individual, as a substitute changing into a product.
On the Artwork Gallery of Ontario, Matthew Wong comes again into focus. Delicate. Revealing. The guts and soul he poured into his work plain to see–no pre-sale estimates connected to them–the artwork, the artist and the onlooker.
Matthew Wong was seven years outdated when his household emigrated to Hong Kong, returning to Toronto when he was 15. The choice to return to Canada was partly influenced by Wong’s well being–Wong was on the autism spectrum, had Tourette’s syndrome and had been identified with despair at a younger age.
He taught himself to attract and paint, experimenting with landscapes in his early 30s. The “self-taught” moniker belies his thorough schooling which included a level in cultural anthropology from the College of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an MFA in images from the Metropolis College of Hong Kong’s College of Artistic Media.
Recognition for his portray got here shortly.
In 2015, the Hong Kong Visible Arts Middle held the primary solo exhibition for his artwork. The work drew consideration on-line, resulting in Wong’s inclusion in Karma gallery’s 2016 exhibition “Outdoors,” held in Amagansett, New York. In 2018, Karma held the first solo exhibition of Wong’s work main esteemed critic Jerry Saltz to call it “one of the most impressive solo New York debuts.”
The “New York Occasions” referred to him as “probably the most gifted painters of his era.”
The Art work
Two attributes stand out amongst Wong’s work above all others: isolation and the colour blue.
“His exact motivations about his curiosity within the coloration had been by no means expressed in writing, however the quantity and breadth of artworks that he revamped a two to 3 yr span–late in his profession–make it clear that his curiosity within the coloration was expansive and unstinting and impressed by a lyrical and poetic sensibility,” Julian Cox, the AGO’s Deputy Director & Chief Curator, instructed Forbes.com of Wong’s compulsion to discover blue’s inventive and expressive prospects.
Melancholy–“the blues”–psychologically issue into Wong’s curiosity within the coloration, however Wong’s blues are the icy blues of the north. Wong’s chilly blues mirror his house nation of Canada the best way Matisse’s blues mirrored the nice and cozy solar of the French Riviera.
Desolate blue. Snowy blue. Frigid blue. Nighttime blue. Somber blue. Edmonton on the plains blue.
Wong’s “Blue Collection’ (2017-2019) stay his signature works.
Whereas the artist’s deep inspection of blue got here later in his profession, his work expressed a reoccurring sense of isolation all through. In a 2018 interview, when requested in regards to the melancholic tone of his artwork, he responded, “I do imagine there may be an inherent loneliness or melancholy to a lot of up to date life, and on a broader degree I really feel my work speaks to this high quality along with being a mirrored image of my ideas, fascinations, and impulses.”
His work commonly depict loneliness–lone figures, lone homes, lone flowers, timber with out leaves.
Contemplating Wong’s work–their deeply private nature, the blues, the isolation, the craving–separate of data about his life and suicide proves tough. It’s an effort, nevertheless, that ought to be made.
“It’s a mistake to miss the technical and aesthetic sophistication of his work, that are extraordinary for an artist who was largely self-directed in his studying and growth,” Cox explains. “The bravura and talent evident in his dealing with of paint is among the traits that prompted critics to confer with him as probably the most gifted painters of his era. The work must be seen in individual to be correctly appreciated; no replica can do them justice.”
Thirty-two work–giant oils on canvas–and 9 works on paper–small watercolors–are on show in “Blue View” alongside Wong’s poems and pictures. The AGO acquired its first work by the artist in 2020, a portray titled The Lengthy Approach Dwelling (2014-15), gifted by Monita and Raymond Wong in reminiscence of their son.
One other mistake simply made when fascinated with Wong is simply too intently evaluating him to van Gogh, an artist he had profound respect for and whom he responded to in his work. The similarities are apparent from the way and age of their deaths to their devotion to blue and yellow respectively.
“Sure, there are some clear affinities between the 2 artists, however extra severe artwork historic examine is required to tease out the nuances of this,” Cox mentioned. “We have to see extra of Wong’s oeuvre and have a extra intimate understanding of his biography, pursuits and inspirations in order that we transcend superficial comparisons. A technique that they’re very completely different, for instance, is their relationship to the expertise of their respective eras. One other is their relationship to the artwork market and artwork world of their time.”
Wong knew nice admiration and success in his temporary profession; van Gogh, little in his.
“The circumstances of Wong’s passing mixed with what we all know of his biography mix to make for a tragic story, however Wong’s inventive journey can also be very inspiring and indicative of how expertise and ambition had been exceptional driving forces in his life,” Cox mentioned.