Matthew Wong (b. 1984, Toronto, Canada; d. 2019, Edmonton, Canada) was a Canadian painter whose works layer resplendent hues to create non-naturalistic scenes. Wong is celebrated for his elaborate construction of graphic space, in which imagined vistas are often fashioned by unconscious phenomena. His gestural articulations and lush, textured landscapes draw comparisons to Gustav Klimt, Vincent Van Gogh, Chaim Soutine, and Song dynasty painting, and attest to his painterly dexterity. Wong’s effervescent paintings, rendered alternatively in gouache, watercolors, and oils, are a blend of shape, history, and sentiment. They aim to, in Wong’s own words, “activate nostalgia, both personal and collective.”
Wong received a degree in cultural anthropology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an MFA in photography at the City University of Hong Kong’s School of Creative Media, where he mounted his first solo exhibition, entitled Fidelity. Wong conceived of his photographic practice as a cerebral and conceptual approach to the study of urban surfaces. His photos consider how the greater themes of humanity—such as life, death, and creation, among others—reflect upon such surfaces, and in doing so, give way to unexpected textures. In them, Wong weaves grand narratives from seemingly disparate subjects, and calls to mind the pictorial influences of modernist painting. In addition to photography, Wong also wrote creatively and critically. Both his writings and photographs appeared in South China Morning Post, Time Out Hong Kong, and the University of Arizona’s Sonora Review. A selection from Wong’s series Grandma’s Things was also featured in the 4th anniversary issue of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal.