MATTHEW WONG (1984-2019)
MATTHEW WONG (1984-2019)
MATTHEW WONG (1984-2019)
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MATTHEW WONG (1984-2019)

Still Life With Grey Vessels

Details
MATTHEW WONG (1984-2019)
Still Life With Grey Vessels
signed in Chinese, titled 'Still Life With Grey Vessels' and dated in Chinese (on the reverse)
watercolor on paper
10 1⁄2 x 9 1⁄2 in. (26.7 x 24.1 cm.)
Painted in 2018.
Provenance
KARMA, New York
Private collection
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Brought to you by

Julian Ehrlich
Julian Ehrlich Specialist, Head of Sale, Post-War to Present

Lot Essay

"Wong’s compositions cohere emotionally, before you are done looking, like cadenzas. His watercolors are little rhapsodies of the everyday. When were you last wowed by a bowl of cherries?"
—"Art: Matthew Wong," The New Yorker, April 2018

Departing from the traditional still life in its dream-like rendering of forms, Matthew Wong’s Still Life with Grey Vessels (2018) implies a meditative solitude disrupted by the pulls of contemporary life. Six vessels huddle together on an earthy tabletop; though varying in size and shape, they are all painted in a similar pearlescent tone. The artist’s sublime coloration, along with the subtle undulation of his distinctive brushstrokes, imparts upon these objects a ghost-like presence. The weightless ephemerality of the bottles starkly contrasts against the dense black background, imbuing the work with a sense of melancholic isolation. These nearly transparent vessels, while mortally fragile, stand as a bulwark against the seemingly all-encompassing abyss that threatens to devour the picture plane. Viewed in this way, Still Life with Grey Vessels reflects on the humanity’s enduring hope in light of the inevitable confrontation with darkness and the unknown.

Born in Toronto in 1984, Wong was educated in both the United States and Hong Kong. From his master’s degree in photography, Wong switched his focus to painting and drawing in 2013. As a self-taught painter, Wong educated himself both online in contemporary studies and in the library amongst the old masters, like Vincent van Gogh, Giorgio Morandi and Edvard Munch. In keeping with Morandi’s structured yet sentimental approach, Wong expertly elevates the mundanity of the everyday vessel into the realm of existential contemplation. Wong’s brush morphs a cold container into an evocative, organic figure. Simple, ordinary objects become protagonists acting on a two-dimensional stage. In each of these artists’ works, their bottles are rendered with delicate contours in almost imperceptible variations of tone. Despite their apparent evanescence, the vessels exude a gravitational aesthetic weight. Both Morandi’s and Wong’s paintings leave the impression that no color or mark is superfluous; all attributes have been pared down so only that which is absolutely necessary is presented to the viewer. In doing so, these paintings become worlds of their own, patiently waiting for an onlooker to be drawn into their metaphysical orbit.

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