Matthew Wong, the incredibly gifted Canadian painter, ended his life by suicide just before the pandemic. He was only 35. He was suffering from depression, Tourette’s syndrome and autism. However, he left behind some of the most spectacular works of art that Raffi Khatchadourian, in an article in the New Yorker, describes as “works of astonishing lyricism, melancholy, whimsy, intelligence, and, perhaps most important, sincerity.”
Wong used to work from a studio in Edmonton, Canada. He worked incognito, away from the prying eyes of other tenants, creating masterpieces in oil. What’s most astonishing is that he was completely self-taught and had picked up the brush only seven years back!
Born in Toronto, Canada, Wong studied cultural anthropology in the University of Michigan, Michigan, USA. Afterwards, he graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in photography from School of Creative Media of the City University of Hong Kong.
The idea of becoming a photographer did not appeal to him, so he started experimenting with photography while he was in the Hong Kong university. Later, he began experimenting with drawing and began painting landscapes. He started posting his painting on Facebook and came to the notice of Matthew Higgs, the curator and director of White Columns Gallery. Higgs encouraged him to exhibit his works at galleries both in New York and Hong Kong. Wong’s outstanding artworks received rave reviews. Curator Jerry Saltz described his solo exhibition at Karma Gallery as “one of the most impressive solo New York debuts I’ve seen in a while.”
Just to give an idea how great Wong’s work was, in just three years since his death, the art market continues to vie for his creations with the prices skyrocketing to millions of dollars. After his death, ‘Times’ eulogized him as “one of the most talented painters of his generation.” Even museums, such as Art Gallery of Ontario, USA and Dallas Museum of Art, USA, started organizing major exhibitions of his works. MOMA and the Met have also acquired his paintings.
The driving force behind Wong was his mother Monita, who was not only his business manager, but also his confidante and companion. She was aware of his battle with depression, that he suffered throughout his adult life, and used to drive him to the studio every day. After his passing, she continues to pay the studio rent so that she can replicate it in a building in Edmonton to house the Matthew Wong Foundation.
Matthew Wong Foundation