Matthew Wong, Untitled, 2019. Gouache on paper, 30.5 x 22.9 cm. © 2019 Matthew Wong Foundation. Image courtesy of Karma, New York.
Blue, by any other name or in any other language, sounds just as sweet when Chinese-Canadian artist Jenny Chen leads a series of free artmaking classes this winter – exclusively in Mandarin. Inspired by the paintings of the late Chinese-Canadian artist Matthew Wong, who captivated audiences around the world with his imaginary landscapes and interiors in cerulean, cobalt, navy, indigo, ultramarine and azure, Chen leads students over Zoom as they deconstruct his works to better understand colour, shading and form.
As Wong himself explored his many influences in his art, so does Chen. As she gives the first art instruction class ever to be offered in Mandarin at the AGO, Chen is delighted to celebrate Wong’s art and her own roots in mainland China.
We caught up with Chen to learn more. Here’s what she had to say, in both English and Chinese.
AGOinsider: As an artist, what about the colour blue attracts you and what are its challenges?
Chen: What attracts me about the colour blue is its serene effect on the viewer. As a painter, I usually use blue when I want to convey a sense of calm.
The challenge of blue is that it can be associated with more “negative” emotions − like sadness or melancholy. I think this is because the word blue in English also holds another meaning besides the colour that refers to a depressed mood.
AGOinsider: What can artists of all skill levels take from looking at Matthew Wong’s work?
Chen: What I admire about Matthew Wong’s work is the sense of play in the way he paints. It feels like many of my favourite pieces from him are very intuitive and were created with bold brushstrokes, for example Blue Night and Autumn Nocturne. This process results in pieces that read as whimsical and ingenuous.
I also love that Matthew Wong makes references to other art movements in Western modern art which makes his work seem timeless. In almost all his paintings, there is a sense of flattened perspective and Wong uses colours that came straight out of the tube, which can be linked to Fauvism. In Starry Night he references the iconic piece Starry Night by Van Gogh but also explores repetitive mark-making which was used in Pointillism.
I think there is something for everyone to enjoy in his work − whether you are an art hobbyist to an art history enthusiast.
问：不同水平的艺术家都可以从 Matthew Wong 的作品中得到什么哪些启示？
我欣赏 Matthew Wong 的作品的地方在于，可以感觉到他的绘画过程是在玩耍。他的许多我最喜欢的作品都非常直观，并且是用大胆的笔触创作的（例如“Blue Night”和“Autumn Nocturne”）。这个过程会让人产生异想天开和天真的感觉。
我也很喜欢 Matthew Wong 引用西方现代艺术中的其他艺术思潮，这使他的作品看起来是永恒的。几乎在他所有的画作中，都有一种扁平化的透视感，而他使用直接从颜料管子里出来的颜色，这可以与野兽派联系起来。在“星夜”中，他引用了梵高的标志性作品“星夜”，但也探索了点画派中使用的重复制作标记。
問：不同水平的藝術家都可以從 Matthew Wong 的作品中得到什麼哪些啟示？
我欣賞 Matthew Wong 的作品的地方在於，可以感覺到他的繪畫過程是在玩耍。他的許多我最喜歡的作品都非常直觀，並且是用大膽的筆觸創作的（例如“Blue Night”和“Autumn Nocturne”）。這個過程會讓人產生異想天開和天真的感覺。
我也很喜歡 Matthew Wong 引用西方現代藝術中的其他藝術思潮，這使他的作品看起來是永恆的。幾乎在他所有的畫作中，都有一種扁平化的透視感，而他使用直接從顏料管子裡出來的顏色，這可以與野獸派聯繫起來。在“星夜”中，他引用了梵高的標誌性作品“星夜”，但也探索了點畫派中使用的重複製作標記。
Interested in joining a class? Jenny Chen’s free Mandarin language pop-up studio classes continue January 19, 26 and February 2 via Zoom. Click here to register and for a list of class materials. Want to challenge yourself further with new courses and workshops inspired by AGO exhibitions? The next sessions begin early February and are available now for registration. For full course listings, fees and materials, visit ago.ca/Learn. To get the latest news on AGO’s art programming, sign up to AGOinsider to get it straight to your inbox.