Matthew Wong - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction Hong Kong Sunday, June 6, 2021 | Phillips

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  • ‘The reaction to his work and exhibition is something we hadn’t experienced before with a young artist or a first show...It was quite astounding. It was the same from critics, colleagues and collectors." — Brendan Dugan, owner of Karma Gallery

    Matthew Wong creates dreamlike painterly realms in which colour, line and form powerfully coalesce. His work envelopes the viewer in an aura of meditative calm, as he synthesises stylised representations, bright colours, and mystical themes to create rich, evocative scenes. The art critic John Yau described Wong’s landscapes as ‘hallucinatory pilgrimages’. As he described in Hyperallergic, ‘Wong makes myriad lines, dots, daubs and short, lush brushstrokes, eventually arriving at an imaginary landscape that tilts away from the picture plane at an odd angle. A painterly cartographer, Wong literally feels his way across the landscape, dot by dot, paint stroke by paint stroke.’


    Ruins, despite its exuberant palette, is tinged with melancholic yearning. Wong had been haunted by episodes of depression throughout his life, and tragically took his own life in 2019 at the young age of 35. Painted in 2016, Ruins marks an important turning point in Wong’s burgeoning artistic career as he started to incorporate figures into his paintings,and showcases his early experimentation as he gradually made the transition to painting smaller human motifs. In his deft and thickly applied strokes, his work is intimate and personal. The inner struggles he faced at that time was evident in the composition, with the inclusion of various agonised human-like figures, alluding to turmoil and malaise. The lush greenery, against a backdrop of bright blue sky, is painted in quick yet delicate dashes and methodical cross-hatchings interspersed an almost stylistically psychedelic pointillism. This bright and upbeat imagery is juxtaposed against the distorted figures that are ensnared with the twisting dark path, giving effect to an emotional paradox of light and dark. Ruins, with its meditative tranquility, powerfully resonates with the viewer as it offers a window into the thoughts and inner workings of the tormented and prodigiously gifted Matthew Wong.


    Matthew Wong Ruins
    Detail of the present lot


    • Provenance

      Karma, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Artist Biography

      Matthew Wong

      Matthew Wong was a Canadian artist who enjoyed growing acclaim for his lush, dreamlike scenes that play on a rich tradition of art historical precedents. His work depicts the vivid but often melancholy terrain between sleep and wakefulness, lonely landscapes and isolated interiors rendered with a carefree hand and an ebullient palette, yet which contain an ineffable sorrow and a palpable but unnamed longing.  

      Wong spent his childhood between cultures: he was born in Toronto, Canada and at age 7 moved with his family to Hong Kong where he lived until he was 15, at which time the family returned to Canada. Wong began to experiment artistically already well into his adulthood, first with photography, which he pursued at the postgraduate level at the City University of Hong Kong, and then with painting. A self-taught painter, Wong developed his aptitude for the medium by immersing himself in online conversations with other artists and dedicated personal study of the history of art. His paintings attracted almost immediate attention, but Wong tragically passed away in 2019 just as his work was beginning to receive widespread critical praise.  

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Property from a Prominent Private Collection



signed, titled and dated '"RUINS" Wong 2016 [in Chinese]' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
61 x 50.8 cm. (24 x 20 in.)
Painted in 2016.

Full Cataloguing

HK$1,200,000 - 1,800,000 

Sold for HK$2,394,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 7 June 2021