Matthew Wong at the Van Gogh Museum

Matthew Wong’s upcoming exhibition, « Painting as a Last Resort, » is set to captivate art enthusiasts at the Van Gogh Museum from 1 March to 1 September 2024.

Matthew Wong | Vincent van Gogh: Painting as a Last Resort

Embark on a journey through the vibrant and mystical creations of Matthew Wong this spring at the Van Gogh Museum. Marking the first-ever comprehensive exhibition of Wong’s deeply personal body of work in Europe, « Matthew Wong | Vincent van Gogh: Painting as a Last Resort » unveils the artist’s globally acclaimed pieces in the context of his profound artistic and personal connection with Vincent van Gogh, whom he considered a significant wellspring of inspiration.

Matthew Wong’s dynamic, expressive style, characterized by vivid colors, is showcased in lush landscapes that emanate a sense of melancholy. Having initially studied photography, Wong swiftly transitioned to painting, drawing inspiration from both European-American and Chinese artistic traditions. Notably, he underwent rapid stylistic transformations, drawing influence from diverse artists such as Klimt and Matisse within short periods. However, it was Vincent van Gogh who played a pivotal role throughout Wong’s brief yet impactful eight-year career as an artist. In a 2018 interview, Wong acknowledged Van Gogh as one of his primary wellsprings of inspiration, evident in the use of color, thick brushwork, and personal themes present in Wong’s oeuvre.

Loneliness, isolation, and melancholy, pervasive themes in Wong’s life, found expression in his art. Jonas Wood, a significant influence on Wong and a close friend, even dubbed him the « modern-day Van Gogh, » underscoring the unmistakable impact of Van Gogh’s legacy on Wong’s artistic evolution.

Throughout his life, Wong not only resonated with Van Gogh’s artistic expressions but also identified with the Dutch artist’s life journey. In 2018, Wong remarked, ‘I see myself in him. The impossibility of belonging in this world.’ Both artists embarked on prolonged quests to discover their life’s purpose, ultimately finding solace in the realm of painting, a pursuit Wong deemed his ‘last resort.’ Both Wong and Van Gogh grappled with mental health challenges, leading to tragically premature ends to their artistic journeys.

In contrast to Van Gogh, Wong’s artistic prowess gained widespread recognition during his brief yet tumultuous career. Merely five years after creating his inaugural artwork, a prestigious museum acquired a painting by Wong, with numerous prominent collectors subsequently following suit. By 2019, The New York Times celebrated him as ‘one of the most talented painters of his generation.’

Joost van der Hoeven, curator of the exhibition Matthew Wong | Vincent van Gogh: Painting as a Last Resort: ‘I see a sincerity, a conviction and total commitment in Wong’s work that you also see with Van Gogh. They are unparalleled in their ability to combine emotional depth with a highly accessible visual language. When I saw Wong’s work for the first time, it gripped me instantly, and I saw in it a whole range of art historical references. And yet it remains completely original and contemporary. I am fascinated by this tension between recognition and originality, and that is what inspired me to make this exhibition’.

Matthew Wong Vincent van Gogh Painting as a Last Resort
Matthew Wong, The Kingdom, 2017, Collection of Liz Lange and David Shapiron. © Matthew Wong Foundation c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2023

Revealing the deeply personal and emotionally resonant body of work by Matthew Wong, the exhibition sheds light on his artistic kinship with Vincent van Gogh. Titled « Matthew Wong | Vincent van Gogh: Painting as a Last Resort, » this retrospective marks Wong’s inaugural showcase in Europe and is currently exhibited at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam from March 1 to September 1, 2024.

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