A header graphic with the following information on an ochre background: Matthew Wong, The Jungle, 2017. Oil on canvas. 30 x 39 7/8 inches. 76.2 x 101.3 cm.
“Wong makes myriad lines, dots, daubs, and short, lush brushstrokes, eventually arriving at an imaginary landscape.... A painterly cartographer, Wong literally feels his way across the landscape, dot by dot, paint stroke by paint stroke.”

—John Yau, Hyperallergic, 2018

A painting by Matthew Wong, titled The Jungle, dated 2017.

Matthew Wong

The Jungle, 2017
Oil on canvas
30 x 39 7/8 inches (76.2 x 101.3 cm)
Framed: 31 1/4 x 41 1/4 inches (79.4 x 104.8 cm)

The self-taught Canadian painter Matthew Wong (1984–2019) became known for his richly textured, dreamlike landscapes steeped in nostalgic melancholia while evoking a vibrant, boundless wonder. Alternating between wet and dry factures, his paintings juxtapose large geometric planes with areas of intricately dotted and patterned brushstrokes. Wong’s work synthesizes the lineages of Eastern and Western art history; his intense, compulsive mark-making recalls the dotwork of Georges Seurat and Yayoi Kusama, while his radical compression and reconfiguration of three-dimensional space harks back to the visual systems of Chinese scroll painting, among other points of reference. Wong aimed to document the wanderings of memory through his enigmatic compositions. 

Like many of Wong’s semi-abstract landscapes, The Jungle (2017) was painted in a palette of kaleidoscopic hues that nod to the painterly traditions of post-impressionists such as Édouard Vuillard, Paul Sérusier, and André Derain. As is typical of Wong’s work, the present composition includes a solitary human figure who functions as a sort of psychical traveler—a metaphor for the artist’s probing curiosity and profound interior reflection. The present work will be included in the artist’s forthcoming catalogue raisonné.

A portrait of Matthew Wong, dated 2015.

Matthew Wong, 2015. Courtesy Matthew Wong Foundation

Matthew Wong, 2015. Courtesy Matthew Wong Foundation

“Wong’s paintings—mostly imagined landscapes—are portals to luminous, vibrant, moody places. Though not surreal, they are the product of reverie: poetic concoctions inspired by memory, stray ideas, or the paint itself as he compulsively worked it. Midnight forests glow, somehow, without light, by a painterly magic.”

—Raffi Khatchadourian, The New Yorker, 2022

An installation view of the exhibition titled Matthew Wong: The Realm of Appearances at Dallas Museum of Art, dated 2022.

Installation view, Matthew Wong: The Realm of Appearances, Dallas Museum of Art, 2022. Courtesy of the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA)

Installation view, Matthew Wong: The Realm of Appearances, Dallas Museum of Art, 2022. Courtesy of the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA)

“[Wong’s] visionary fusion of form and feeling never stopped developing…. Mr. Wong made some of the most irresistible paintings I’ve ever encountered.”

—Roberta Smith, The New York Times, 2019

A detail from a painting by Matthew Wong, titled The Jungle, dated 2017.

Matthew Wong, The Jungle, 2017 (detail)

Matthew Wong, The Jungle, 2017 (detail)

A detail from a painting by Matthew Wong, titled The Jungle, dated 2017.

Matthew Wong, The Jungle, 2017 (detail)

Matthew Wong, The Jungle, 2017 (detail)

A detail from a painting by Matthew Wong, titled The Jungle, dated 2017.

Matthew Wong, The Jungle, 2017 (detail)

Matthew Wong, The Jungle, 2017 (detail)

“Wong can be considered a kind of nouveau Nabi, a descendant of Post-Impressionist painters like Édouard Vuillard and Paul Sérusier. Like his forebears, he synthesizes stylized representations, bright colors, and mystical themes to create rich, evocative scenes. His works, despite their ebullient palette, are frequently tinged with a melancholic yearning.”

—Eric Sutphin, Art in America, 2018

A painting by Peter Doig titled White Canoe, dated 1997.

Peter Doig, White Canoe, 1997

Peter Doig, White Canoe, 1997

A painting by Edvard Munch titled Starry Night, dated 1897.

Edvard Munch, Starry Night, 1897. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Edvard Munch, Starry Night, 1897. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

This is a painting by Gustav Klimt titled Birch Forest, dated 1903.

Gustav Klimt, Birch Forest, 1903. Private collection

Gustav Klimt, Birch Forest, 1903. Private collection

Informed by modernist traditions and the subjective import of abstract expressionism, Wong’s compositions arose from intuition and sought existential truths. His landscapes hover between tactile abstraction and a dreamlike vision of reality reminiscent of artists including Peter Doig and Edvard Munch and often feature a single solitary figure. As described in the publication accompanying the artist’s first solo exhibition at Hong Kong Art Center in 2015, “Neither fully abstract nor figurative, the landscape as it appears in Matthew's paintings nevertheless displays suggestive traits of human features to emphasize the interchangeability between man and nature.”

This image features two paintings placed side by side, on the left is the work by Vincent van Gogh titled Starry Night Over the Rhône, dated 1888, on the right is Infinity-Nets (LZOPT) by Yayoi Kusama, dated 2009

Vincent van Gogh, Starry Night Over the Rhône, 1888. Musée d'Orsay, Paris (left); Yayoi Kusama, Infinity-Nets (LZOPT), 2009

Vincent van Gogh, Starry Night Over the Rhône, 1888. Musée d'Orsay, Paris (left); Yayoi Kusama, Infinity-Nets (LZOPT), 2009

On the left is a painting titled Bretonne au Champ de Blé (Breton Woman in Meadow) by Paul Sérusier, dated 1890–1899. On the right is a painting titled Landschaft mit Gebirgssee by Caspar David Friedrich, dated 1823-1835

Paul Sérusier, Bretonne au Champ de Blé (Breton Woman in Meadow), 1890–1899. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (left); Caspar David Friedrich, Landschaft mit Gebirgssee, Morgen (Landscape With Mountain Lake, Morning), 1823-1835 (right)

Paul Sérusier, Bretonne au Champ de Blé (Breton Woman in Meadow), 1890–1899. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (left); Caspar David Friedrich, Landschaft mit Gebirgssee, Morgen (Landscape With Mountain Lake, Morning), 1823-1835 (right)

“I may just pick a few colors at hand and squeeze them onto the surface, blindly making marks, but at a certain point I will inexplicably get a very fleeting glimpse of what the image I may finally arrive at will be, sort of like a hallucination.”

—Matthew Wong

A painting titled Unknown Pleasures by Matthew Wong, dated 2019.

Matthew Wong, Unknown Pleasures, 2019. The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Matthew Wong, Unknown Pleasures, 2019. The Museum of Modern Art, New York

“Working predominantly in landscape, Wong harnessed the genre’s conventions as a framework around which to build impossible spaces. Coding earth and trees with nonmimetic, calibrated mark-making, and painting in vibrating Fauvist hues, he created feverish, labyrinthine canvases.”

—Katherine Siboni, Artforum, 2020

A photo featuring Matthew Wong working in his studio, dated 2014.

Matthew Wong in his studio, 2014

Matthew Wong in his studio, 2014

“There is an infinitesimally fine line between poetry and painting; at their best, both seek to bypass the logic of language to enter a realm where sensations and associations can be vividly perceived, but not spoken into the air.”

Matthew Wong, 2015

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