Matthew Wong’s Life in Light and Shadow

Wong was experiencing growing concerns about his work. He knew that his abstractions were good, but also that he was not particularly indistinguishable from the abstracts by countless other artists. The praise he received on the Internet was considered a “comforting mirage”. For an untrained painter hopelessly far from New York, Facebook was essential, but he feared it would also be an invitation to mediocrity, a “love fest at a somewhat dead end.”

Alternating currents of insecurity and confidence became a driving force in Wong’s creative life. After the exhibition in Zhongshan, under pressure from Shear. “How does one jump with any of the different factions of the 30-day ascent in today’s global art scene?” Asked. “It looks like they all climb together. Nobody climbs alone anymore.”

From southern China, the only way for Wong to move forward was by himself. He told Shear that he would change his approach to painting. He said that the problem with Abstract Expressionism is that few people can tell whether it is good or bad. He wanted to make use of avatars to play with formation. reworked some old pieces; In one, scratch the outline of two people. “The ugliness executed so well seems to be going away well,” he told Cher. “It’s always good that a late Picasso comes back for that.”

Wong’s paintings became more and more grotesque. Paranormal shapes – semi-organic shapes, with stray kinks and flat curves – assumed an improbable match. They appeared first in his morning ink exercises, which began to mature into sequential works in their own right. (After his death, they became the subject of a show in New York.)

Wong lost some followers who were committed to his earlier work. But the important fans remained. When he posted a painting in this new context on Facebook, he got a free response from John Cheim, whose gallery Cheim & Read has represented many notable artists. In the painting, called “Memento”, a dark twisted mass stood on a yellow background resembling cracked soil. There was anxiety and anger in the central figure, with some features that were legible–a face partly blocked by wild hair, some like a prison net–and others that were not. It wasn’t necessarily a museum piece, but it was good, and people on Facebook confirmed it.

He wondered how to proceed with his work. He wrote to Cher: “Drawing a good piece doesn’t dilute anything.” “First I thought: ‘Ken I do that again? “”

“Heh I’m struggling too,” Cher wrote.

“Everyone’s crying is the best piece ever,” said Wong. “This is actually the worst feeling in the world lol. I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in verses from the ether. Things like this are real. One tells, ‘Now imagine if I were a top-notch artist — that feeling is amplified and intensified a thousand times every time you catch It has a brush.

Wong was learning in public, creating and posting photos at breakneck speed. “It was shocking how every day he kept making leaps and bounds in his work,” Ducher, a Los Angeles-based illustrator, told me. But Wong sometimes posts pieces even before they’re finished, and the quality has varied. When a famous artist suggested he slow down, he was annoyed. Terrified that Brooklyn painters might make fun of him, he obsessively deleted images of the paintings he had reworked, telling Cher, “I feel like I’m so exposed to the wind now, just a weird jerk down my spine.”

In October 2015, Monita Wong helped secure a three-day show at a government-run art center in Hong Kong. He filled the void with forty pieces, this time with several friends. Someone threw after the party. It was Wong’s first real exhibition. The place was not prominent, but he sold his paintings which saved him a little money to earn more art.

After that, Monetta told me, Matthew fell into another deep depression. It is not entirely clear why. Around this time, according to a friend, he learned that his ex-girlfriend was engaged. In response, he painted that entire night. He once admitted to another artist that Moneta scolded him, “You will never have a girlfriend. No one will be able to please you. You are a prince. Moneta says she has maintained a pragmatic attitude – she told him that, given his struggles, he should never have children – but she hoped that finds a woman.

For months, the depression did not subside. “It’s pretty pervasive in my life in general right now,” Wong told Cher in January. “I don’t really feel like fighting or resisting, this darkness. The weird perverted part is that I paint in the middle of it all. Even if my position is just a useless one, the game continues.”

Monita took Matthew to America for months – an escape, in search of momentum. Cher had arranged for them a joint show “Good Bad Brush” in Washington state. Matthew and Moneta have also visited Texas, Michigan, Los Angeles and New York. While traveling, Wong would make art every day. But even as his environment changed, his grief remained. He was barely earning money, and his oil paintings and oil paintings remained in China. “I really feel the dread, shivering and disgust,” he told Cher. “I walk two steps and then I feel nauseous and dizzy.”

Visiting a friend in Edmonton, Monetta decided they would stay, arguing that Matthew would benefit from the Canadian healthcare system. He queued up to see a wizard, and continued to find relief through ink drawings, watercolors, and gouache on paper. A few weeks later, Cher shared a painting from his studio. “Very nice,” Wong said. “In the midst of an anxiety attack.” Twenty minutes later, Cher checked it out. “I’m fine,” Wong assured him. “Just draw a board.”

Two years after Wong drew inspiration from the paintings at the Venice Biennale, the curator displayed a strange artifact called the “Encyclopedic Palace.” It was an eleven-foot-tall architectural model, built in the 1950s by an auto mechanic in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania (“the mushroom capital of the world”). The structure took years of hard work to build — out of wood, copper, celluloid, and hair combs — in the hopes that it would inspire a museum in the National Mall that houses all human knowledge. Instead, it remained for 22 years in a storage locker in Delaware, until it was transferred to the Museum of American Folk Art. The biennial exhibition caused an uproar and the art world responded. “External” artists are beginning to appear with increasing frequency in galleries and museums.

The term “external art” is almost impossible to define, but its origins can be traced back to a trip that Jean Dubuffet took to Switzerland, in 1945, to visit psychiatric hospitals, in search of art made by patients. He said what he found.brutal art“Raw art,” which is “created out of solitude and from pure and genuine creative impulses – where fears of competition, acclaim and social promotion do not interfere.” “

In this sense, Wong and Ma were an artist on the outside. He had an MFA, but taught himself to draw. He worked out of compulsion, but he also nurtured an audience and community of his peers. He hung between East and West: he once remarked, “I am trying to see where I can fit into the equation of Chinese painting,” but he was primarily seeking entry into the New York art world.

From Zhongshan, Wong wrote to Shear, “I’m technically an outside artist. Are you?”

“I never got the test results,” Cher wrote.

“I’m not too wild,” Wong replied. “laughing loudly.”

While searching for a show in New York, Wong learned about White Columns, a non-profit space that specializes in artists who are not officially represented. On the recommendation of John Chem, he submitted photographs of six paintings via email, with a request for an exhibition. Two hours later, director Matthew Higgs responded. He explained that the White Columns were booked for the next year, but that he was coordinating a group show in September 2016, for the East Village gallery called Karma. The show focused on the landscape, and was titled ‘Outside’ – ‘as in ‘outdoors’, but also to hint at the ‘outside’ aesthetic/behaviour/spirit.” He invited Wong to include two of his paintings. In one there appeared a naked man, probably a Narcissus, gazing into a puddle; The other depicts a man on a rock masturbating to a woman. Made of acrylic, they had the rough but honest look of an untrained painter.

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