In a relatively familiar landscape, Canadian-Chinese artist Matthew Wong explores perception through color and shape. However, these narratives are reminiscent of Post-Impressionism movements; the color daubs of Georges Seurat and Pointilism, the bright colors of Fauvism, and the intersection of space that is evocative of Paul Cézanne and his still lifes. Wong, obviously aware of these historical ideals, has constructed new landscapes that utilize both his Western and Eastern heritages. Also apparent in his brushstroke, is Wong's application of color, which retrospectively displays traditional Chinese painting and carving practices. This intermixing of history has inspired Wong's lush landscapes that vibrate with energy and color.
Whether with watercolor or oil, Wong employs bright colors, hyperpersonifying the natural landscapes he portrays. Similar to early avant-garde movements, this abstraction transposes reality. As with early innovators of these familiar shapes, Wong also creates space between objects throughout the works. Whether it be between each individual dot or line, or with trees and flowers, Wong creates a stirring dynamic felt by the viewer. Although the subject matter is a solid form, its place on the canvas perpetually moves, filling the image with its surroundings, as if we are viewing a still of a continuous narrative.
A self-taught artist, Wong has artfully coincided his knowledge and awareness of art history on an international level. The lines and dots that fill the composition in a seemingly intentional, if not also spontaneous way, display a monochromatic similarity to traditional Chinese ceramic and painted work. Usually using the same color for incising, normally seen in black or red, Chinese artisans constructed imaginary narratives, depicting familiar cultural symbols such as dragons.
Although this imagery is obviously not seen within Wong's work, the familiar carving or cutting away is. The repetition of shapes, although each distinct, allows the scene to be clearly represented, but also allows the flexibility with which Wong constructs his imagined narratives. There are rarely more than one or two figures in each piece, which makes the work feel as if the scenes are preciously held between the viewer and the subject. A small aspect of the larger scene.
Sound in their historical foundation and each uniquely structured, Wong has successfully perpetuated familiar painting practices. While utilizing his knowledge, paired with an imaginative palette of color, shape and line, Wong has constructed work that is at once recognizable and singular in style.
Matthew Wong, Field In A Dream, 2017. Courtesy of The Editorial Magazine.
Matthew Wong, Homecoming, 2017. Courtesy of The Editorial Magazine.
Title image: Matthew Wong, The Beginning, 2017. Courtesy of The Office Magazine.