What is your art about?
My main practice involves oil painting on canvas, and I also make gouache works on paper. Early in 2014, I started to teach myself to paint in the medium of Chinese ink on rice paper. I paint on a daily basis, and none of the works are planned in advance, but rather worked out through an intuitive engagement with the pigment and surface, therefore my work can be seen as an existential meditation on the act of painting, painting as a marker of time.
How did you begin making art?
After graduating from the University of Michigan in 2007 with a degree in Cultural Anthropology, I came back to Hong Kong and spent the two years working a variety of desk jobs. Around the end of 2009, I took a snapshot of a still life on my grandfather’s night table with my Nokia mobile phone. It was the first creative thing I ever did. Shortly after, I met my first girlfriend, who encouraged me to apply for an MFA in photography, and I ended up enrolling in the City University of Hong Kong School of Creative Media. I pursued photography and a variety of digital media during my time there, but after I graduated in 2012, I still did not have the confidence in my abilities towards what I learned there to pursue professionally. Around this time, perhaps as a last resort, I begin to draw. I bought a sketch book, a bottle of ink, and made a mess every day randomly – pouring ink onto the pages, hoping something interesting would happen. I haven’t looked back ever since.
How does art affect you?
Art is all-encompassing in my daily life. When I’m not working, I’m at the library doing research into the history of art, figuring out where I can fit into the greater dialogue between artists throughout time, or on the internet looking at art-related websites and engaging in dialogue on social media with artists and art-world figures around the world.
What do you mean by painting allows you to discover more about yourself?
I’ve been right-handed my whole life, but when I paint I actually use both hands. It isn’t something I started doing consciously, but some time in 2014 I noticed that I was actually passing painting utensils back and forth between each hand while working.
Do you have to overcome any hurdles when you make art?
I never have trouble painting, but right now my biggest hurdle is trying to find more outlets for my work to be seen in person, beyond the internet and social media platforms.
Who is your favourite local artist?
Firenze Lai, for her sense of color.
“I already possess the super power I wanted – the ability to paint.”
About Matthew Wong
Favorite book: A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace
Favorite movie: The King of Comedy
Favorite cartoon character: Fattie (cartoon character created by my ex-girlfriend)
The most inspiring place : Hong Kong Central Library, Tin Hau