Roy Wong at Gallery 1313

Impressions of Beauty is a captivating collection of landscape, still-life, and abstract work by Roy Wong, a member artist of Gallery 1313. Wong’s unique perspective captures the sublime essence of the natural world and the beauty in the space between seasons, as depicted in pieces such as “Autumn Leaves in the Fall” and “Red Barn in the Fall”. Wong’s palette is a striking contrast of fiery hues and muted tones. Bright oranges and reds cling desperately to branches, while hints of winter emerge as soft blues that creep into the shadows. This intense, yet balanced use of colour creates a captivating visual experience.

Roy Wong, Autumn Leaves in the Fall, acrylic and oil on canvas

Texture is a crucial aspect of Wong’s work, adding depth and complexity. A lake’s smooth surface contrasts with the rough, decaying foliage scattered about the ground. Bare branches, stripped of their finery, reach skyward, resilient, a reminder of transition and nature’s cycle of death and rebirth.

Roy Wong, Red Barn in the Fall, acrylic and oil on canvas

Wong’s still-life works, such as “Flowers in Vase and Red Book” and “Flowers in Vase Between Colours”, also draw upon these themes. The evocative pairing of vibrant reds and muted browns takes center stage in a collection of floral still-life paintings exploring beauty’s fleeting nature. These works transcend the simple depiction of blooms, transforming them into poignant transition narratives.

Roy Wong, Flowers in Vase and Red Book, acrylic and oil on canvas

The focus on light, as with “Flowers in Vase and Red Book”, further emphasizes the passage of time. A single ray might illuminate a particularly vibrant petal, momentarily highlighting its beauty before surrendering it to the encroaching shadows. This play of light and shadow creates a sense of drama, mirroring the internal struggle between holding onto the present and accepting the inevitable.

These floral still-life works are not merely depictions of flowers but meditations on impermanence, capturing the bittersweet beauty of things in transition. The rich reds, a symbol of life’s vibrancy, are ultimately subdued by the muted browns, a reminder of its transience. Yet, even in the face of decay, there is a promise of renewal.

In a captivating departure from the series’ focus, Wong’s Abstract Landscape emerges as a culmination, a vibrant tapestry woven from the artist’s exploration of nature. The familiar deep browns and fiery reds, seen previously, resurface here, almost as solitary elements.

Roy Wong, Abstract Landscape, acrylic and oil on canvas

Yet, this isn’t a somber reflection. Pops of bright yellow and blue traverse the canvas like unexpected wildflowers erupting through a weathered landscape. These bursts of colour bring a sense of vibrancy and life, reminiscent of the flowers in the still-life work. The composition feels dynamic, a swirling interplay of textures and hues.

Panorama view of Impressions of Beauty at Gallery 1313, Cell Gallery

Wong’s work is more than a representation of the beauty in the natural world. It is a poignant celebration of the impermanence of all things, a sentiment that resonates deeply within us. They celebrate the beauty of decay, the quiet solitude of a world preparing for slumber, and the promise of renewal that lies dormant beneath the winter snow or the dim light of dusk.

Text and photo: B. James McCarthy

*Exhibition information: Roy Wong, Impressions of Beauty, June 19 – 30, 2024, Gallery 1313, Cell Gallery, 1313 Queen St. West, Toronto. Gallery hours: Wed – Sat 1 – 5 pm, Sun 1 – 4 pm.

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