The first museum retrospective of painter Matthew Wong opens at the Dallas Museum of Art this fall
The first American museum retrospective and museum exhibition dedicated to the late painter Matthew Wong will be presented this fall at the Dallas Museum of Art, the only museum to collect the artist’s work during his lifetime. With approximately 60 paintings created by Wong during his short but prolific career, Matthew Wong: The Kingdom of Appearances offers the first formal account of the full breadth of Wong’s six-year oeuvre, with particular emphasis on his landscape paintings and what they reveal about his process and his commitment to dialogue and collaboration. The exhibition is visible from October 16, 2022 to February 5, 2023.
“DMA’s history with the work of Matthew Wong began in 2017 with our acquisition of his painting west at the Dallas Art Fair, marking the first time a museum has purchased his work,” said Dr. Agustín Arteaga, Director Eugene McDermott of the DMA. “Matthieu was a rare burgeoning talent, and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to deepen the understanding of his work through this comprehensive presentation, providing the audience with a complete picture of his exceptional virtuosity and his incredibly rich.”
Matthew Wong (1984-2019), a self-taught painter, achieved critical acclaim during his short artistic career, which spanned only six years between 2013, when he began painting and drawing seriously, and his death in 2019. During this time, Wong became known for his evocative, unpopulated landscape paintings in a wide range of styles, from vibrant scenic vistas depicted in iridescent patterns of dots and daubs to freshly outlined mountain landscapes by long brushstrokes and washes. In their nonspecificity and universality of place, Wong’s landscapes reflect his own transnationality, having spent most of his life between Canada and Hong Kong. His broad worldview is also evident in the range of references found in his work, which easily recalls the Post-Impressionists, Fauvist, 17th-century Qing period ink painters and contemporaries he admired. Wong has skillfully synthesized numerous artists and materials across time, place and medium to create a visual language all his own.
Matthew Wong: The Kingdom of Appearances traces the arc of Wong’s practice, bringing together a vast selection of his oil, ink, watercolor and gouache paintings to illustrate the depth and scope of his work. Curated by Dr. Vivian Li, Curator of Contemporary Art Lupe Murchison of the DMA, the exhibition is organized into two parts which cover Wong’s artistic output from 2013 to 2019: the first half focuses on the first three years of his activities painting while living in Hong Kong and working in his studio in China; the second half focuses on his mature years as an artist, a period of accelerated growth beginning in 2016 when he returned to Canada. All along, The realm of appearances highlights the dialogues and connections that Wong skillfully forged between himself and others, both in his paintings – in which he invoked the work of a mix of artists, past and present – and in his using the burgeoning social media landscape to connect and converse with international art critics, curators and other artists.
The exhibition also features a special curatorial study of some of Wong’s paintings, including west (2017), which was acquired by the DMA in 2017. Due to the intense speed and rigor of his artistic creation, Wong frequently reused canvases, so many of his early oil on canvas works like west are executed on his earlier paintings. This conservation study, led by DMA Paintings conservator Laura Eva Hartman, provides invaluable insight into Wong’s process and techniques.
“Matthew Wong was an artist of intense drive: not only did he learn to paint on his own, but he also tirelessly studied artists he admired, assimilating various elements of their work into his own. Yet, looking at his paintings, who are uncanny, captivating and so stylistically assured, it’s easy to forget that this was someone who worked tirelessly to catch up and who the world was just beginning to understand,” said Vivian Li, The Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art at the DMA.”I hope audiences will leave this exhibition with a renewed appreciation for the skill, effort and self-expression that Matthew has put into his work.”
Matthew Wong: The Kingdom of Appearances will be accompanied by a catalog distributed by Yale University Press that will feature new scholarship on Wong’s visionary approach to landscapes.