Over the course of an artist’s life, one is able to look back and see certain patterns in their work, periods of time where the artist was in a certain mood or particular headspace. Often, this translates aesthetically to the artist devoting themselves to a particular color palette. Such is the case in the current exhibition of Matthew Wong’s work on view at Karma.
As specified in the title, Blue fills the gallery walls with works examining the ways in which this color can evoke various scenes, feelings, and human experiences. All of Wong’s work have evoked a certain level of melancholy and sadness but this latest showing does so with a new understanding of the artist behind the work.
As Karma explains in the show’s press release: For this body of work, developed over the last year of his life, Wong concerned himself with the “blueness of blue”: its fluidity, its affect, and its uncanny ability to “activate nostalgia, both personal and collective.”
Previous work by Wong embodied the daylight with hues of yellow, orange, and green predominantly taking over the canvas. In this body of work, Wong moves into the time of day when the sun is escaping the sky, specifically placing these works under the halo of the penumbra or the outer region of a shadow where light crosses over into dark.
More so than any other color, blue has an ability to induce nostalgia, calling to mind memories that are universal and personal to each individual.
Flânerie, or the act of strolling, plays a key role in the works of Blue. The various subject matter across Karma’s two gallery spaces are semi-fictional, taken from Wong’s own life and specifically, from experiences while traveling in Sicily, Italy during the fall of 2018 and winter of 2019 alongside his mother.
A regular occurrence in Wong’s vast landscapes or intimate interiors is a sole figure, a distinct characteristic noticeably absent in this body of work. Wong continues examining both exterior and interior spaces, showing the intimacies and intricacies that are shared between the two realms.
Wong called Edmonton, Canada home in recent years. Knowing this, one can imagine these landscapes as close to the reality of the physical world he inhabited. This is the first exhibition of Matthew Wong’s work post-mortem and one that immortalizes the gentle soul of the incredible artist.
Blue will be on view at Karma through January 5, 2020.