Matthew Wong: Blue View at Art Gallery Of Ontario – Forbes

December 13, 2021 by No Comments

Matthew Wong, Autumn Nocturne, 2018. Oil on canvas, 121.9 x 182.9 cm.

© 2018 Matthew Wong Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York. Image courtesy of Karma, New York.

Remember Matthew Wong’s humanity.

Easily lost in the art market’s rapacious commodification of his paintings and the media’s attempts to stereotypically mythologize his life, Matthew Wong was a person. A brilliant creative, a troubled soul–yes–but also a son, a friend, a painter.

Wong’s (b. Toronto, 1984–d. Edmonton, 2019) four short years as a shooting star in the contemporary art spotlight receive their first museum retrospective during “Matthew Wong: Blue View” at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto through April 18, 2022.

Wong’s story perfectly suits clichés for those interested in looking no further. The tormented self-taught artist–a modern day van Gogh–who, upon receiving near instantaneous glowing acclaim for his genius, snaps under the pressure, taking his own life.

Too easy.

An artist who shared such a deep vulnerability through his work deserves more in return than categorization as a trope. Until now, that’s mostly what he’s received.

Sensationalism around his suicide created a market feeding frenzy. His work was speculated upon as if he were a hot tech stock. in October of 2020, his painting Shangri-La (2017) sold at Christie’s for $4.5 million, more than four times above the asking price.

Wong became the flavor of the week. Fresh meat for the 24-hour news cycle. A new target for market vampires to find and flip. Contemporary art disgraced itself when Wong died.

He ceased to be a person, instead becoming a product.

At the Art Gallery of Ontario, Matthew Wong comes back into focus. Sensitive. Revealing. The heart and soul he poured into his work plain to see–no pre-sale estimates attached to them–the art, the artist and the onlooker.

The Artist

Matthew Wong, Blue Night, 2018. Oil on canvas, 152.4 x 121.9 cm.

© 2018 Matthew Wong Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York. Image courtesy of Karma, New York.

Matthew Wong was seven years old when his family emigrated to Hong Kong, returning to Toronto when he was 15. The decision to return to Canada was partly influenced by Wong’s health–Wong was on the autism spectrum, had Tourette’s syndrome and had been diagnosed with depression at a young age.

He taught himself to draw and paint, experimenting with landscapes in his early 30s. The “self-taught” moniker belies his thorough education which …….



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