Chinese-Canadian, Jeffrey Chong Wang, draws on his culture and heritage as the inspiration for his whimsical oil paintings. The talented artist achieves a nostalgic and historical aesthetic by using portraits of family members and friends in his compositions, fusing them together with specific locations in China which he recalls from his time growing up there. In his piece Rainy Day, his trademark style is very much present, drawing on themes of communism, literature, and sensuality, with protagonists that are borrowed from Chong Wang’s own life.
Rainy Day, 2019, oil on canvas, 36″ x 48″
The exhibition The Other Side of Now, held at Gallery House, has an overwhelmingly ethereal presence. The otherworldly aesthetic highlights a fantasy world of China, while having very evident hints of reality, political expression, and history. The piece, Afternoon Tea, encompasses this idea. The work is very large and is extremely complex. The piece seems to offer a Chinese twist on 18th century aristocratic Europe, with the figures frivolously lounging in luxury, wearing wigs, and eating at an abundantly filled table, which unmistakably echoes the oil paintings of the French Court. Alongside this theme, Chong Wang introduces the art of Chinese tattoos, present on the female figure in the foreground. He shows the idyllic country landscape in the back window. The painting combines the very ornate Oriental fashion with a very prominent eroticism.
Afternoon Tea, 2019, oil on canvas, 60″ x 48″
The oeuvre of Jeffrey Chong Wang is whimsical and striking. He paints his protagonists as fair-skinned and idealized in style, looking out into the distance with lost and captivating eyes. This theme is evident in After Sunset, a piece that, like many others, immediately impacts the viewer, making them wonder who or what it is that these figures are looking at, and why is it making them so sad. Jeffery Chong Wang’s exhibition, The Other Side of Now, cleverly remarks on the past and the present, which makes it an important must-see.
After Sunset, 2019, oil on canvas, 24″ x 30″
Images are courtesy of Gallery House
*Exhibition information: Jeffrey Chong Wang Solo Show & New Works, March 7 – April 3, 2020, Gallery House, 2068 Dundas Street West, Toronto. Gallery hours: by appointment only till April 3, 2020.