Matthew Wong, “Untitled” (2013), ink on rice paper, 15 1/2 x 27 inches, 24 x 34 3/4 x 1 1/2 inches, framed (©2021 Matthew Wong Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Photography: Alex Yudzon / Cheim & Read, New York)
In his brief time as an artist, Matthew Wong (1984–2019) addressed a paradox that haunts artists who work in traditional mediums: how do you accommodate the medium while also becoming yourself. It takes some artists years to become themselves, while others seem to balance traditions and individuality from the outset. Wong belongs to the latter group.
For Wong, an artist of Chinese descent, living and working in Hong Kong, Zhongshan, China, and Edmonton, Canada — the East and the West — the paradox encompasses cultural and racial considerations. I think this is reflected in his first choice of materials, which he continued to use throughout his the rest of his life.