Matthew Wong was a self-taught Canadian painter whose surreal, poetic motifs vaulted him to the top contemporary art in just a few short years. The artist's iconic imagery often features lone figures wandering in dappled, imaginary landscapes, and moody, emotional interiors painted from memory. In his words, these images “activate nostalgia, both personal and collective.” Wong was hailed as “one of the most talented painters of his generation” by Roberta Smith.
Born in 1984 in Toronto, he earned a BA in 2007 in cultural anthropology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an MFA in 2013 in photography from the School of Creative Media of the City University in Hong Kong. Wong's painting practice was truncated to only six years from 2014 to his untimely death in 2019. His work, however, broadly invokes art historical precedents that range from tenth century Chinese literati painting to the Western canon including artists like Chaim Soutine, Vincent Van Gogh, Louise Bourgeois, and Yayoi Kusama.
The artist rose to international prominence in 2017 when he was featured in a number of group exhibitions in New York, including at Cheim & Read, where his work was reproduced in a review in the The New York Times. Wong's first U.S. solo exhibition opened at Karma in New York in March 2018, and was again reviewed in The New York Times and The New Yorker, among others.
In October 2019, he took his life in Edmonton, Canada, where he lived. He was 35, and suffered from Tourette’s syndrome, Autism, and depression. His second New York solo exhibition, Blue, was scheduled to open that November, and it went ahead as planned as a posthumous memorial to the artist, with no works for sale.
The first museum exhibition of Wong's work, Blue View, organized by Julian Cox, was on view alongside Picasso's Blue Period paintings at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. An exhibition is planned at the Dallas Museum of Art in 2022, and a forthcoming exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam will pair his work with Van Gogh's. Wong's work is represented in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.