Gary Wong’s “DriveByPictureShow/WordPictures: Drawings & Paintings”

Gary Wong


 Drawings and Paintings

Show Runs: July 11, 2020 - August 8, 2020

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A California native, Gary S. Wong moved with his family from Oakland to Los Angeles at a time when City Hall was the tallest building in the basin. The vantage point of his ethnically diverse E. 21st Street neighborhood just south of Downtown, and the cultural undulations of the time, deeply influenced his artistic, musical, and spiritual life. From an early age, Wong was collecting images, painting and making things, more often than not reflecting a societal underbelly, an underdog or outsider perspective. In high school, he won a contest for a poster he created regarding illegal detainment. Shortly thereafter, he was arrested and jailed for peaceful protesting the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. When the Watts riots were in full swing, Wong was studying at Chouinard Art Institute with master abstract expressionists Emerson Woelffer and Matsumi Kanemitsu. Woelffer taught him the spiritual aspect of the intent and execution of painting. From Kanemitsu, he learned a respect for the qualities the tools and methods bring to the work. Gary Wong’s work is an exploration into the intrinsic qualities of paint and the internal dialogue of American abstract painting.

The reason I paint is as old as Mankind itself: the need to make mark, to leave a message. I have previously worked in the layering of recognizable figures and images with words. I found myself becoming disinterested in people’s interpretation of the images in my work. I was more interested in the grounds, the surface, the texture and its visual richness. I began eliminating the figure or any recognizable subject through my synthesis of stories, myths, ancient history, poems, and songs as written. The purpose of which is to bring focus to the purely visual aspects of the text without the interjection of one’s psyche’s interpretation of that which is 

recognizable. The word conversation comes to mind, the visual energy of story told again and again. The marks, once made, inform the next and the next, and the once silent dialogue develops into a conversation.

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