Postcards: Matthew Wong by Winnie Wong 2020

Susan gave me this book for Hanukah, no doubt drawn by the title (for information about my obsession with postcards, you can go to www.EpsteinReads/postcards) on the spine of this slim book she found at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.  Neither of us knew who  Matthew Wong at the time.

I say ‘was’ because this cult artist committed suicide in Edmonton, Albert in October, 2019.  A self-taught artist who had begun to garner critical acclaim just before he ended his life, Wong like so many gifted ‘so called primitive artists’ was on the autism spectrum, had Tourette’s syndrome, and struggled with depression as his family moved from Canada to Hong Kong and then back again.  He attended the University of Michigan, graduating with a degree in anthropology.

This slim volume with an introduction by the art historian Winnie Wong (I have been unable to determine if she is a relative.) and a poem ‘The Rock’ by Henri Cole contains 20 beautifully reproduced paintings filled with bold color and mystical themes.  Most of the paintings include a small, non-descript human figure somewhat lost in the enormity of nature.

Wong was an unknown when he had a surprisingly successful show in NY in 2018 at gallery Karma in NYC, and according to my art-world daughter, his work which had been selling for $20,000 has rocketed into the millions.  A quick Google search found a painting entitled ‘The Reader’ which sold at auction in 2019 for $2.3million.

This book is one example of the nearly infinite number of artists working in paint, sculpture, music, or words who enrich our world but who remain unknown to most of us.  Reading this book and learning of Wong was a wonderful holiday gift!