Richard Wong is a Malaysian Artist from KL. This exhibition is the result of research made in 2009 during a trip to the Canadian Rockies and stems from his love of listening to and being within nature. He described nature as having its own “music”, and chose the title “Lyrical Abstraction” to describe his visual expressions of this music. He articulates these expressions through abstract knife paintings. They are layered and scratched and scraped and layered again. Wong is a shy but passionate man, uncomfortable with the limelight, and his work is best understood through discussion with him. We brought our translator Lee Zi Yang to dig deeper into the meaning of these cold colours and scraped paints.
Wong’s process begins with hiking and camping for long periods of time, so as to be completely removed from society and immerse himself fully within mother nature. Here he observes, listens, and absorbs. He creates some small plein-air studies but mostly meditates upon his surroundings intensely whilst in deep solitude. Later he returns to the studio and organises colours and concepts so as to articulate his observations. He braves these things for his art, to let us know that no matter what our challenges maybe, we should keep going, and keep striving to reach our goals, even if they seem unachievable.
Before bringing paint to canvas, he instinctively knows what he will do. The physical process is fast, but the thought process and rumination has taken almost a decade to bring these ideas to light. In some of the paintings one can see waterfalls, others there are mountains, but ostensibly, it is up to the viewer to decipher and decide for themselves based on their own experience. The paintings themselves are mostly stark, icy, contrasting colours, but there is a smattering of a Monet-esque colour pallette hiding amongst them, showing that there is some warmth to be found amongst the rocks and surface patterns, even at -27C.
I confess that at first glance this show seemed too commercial for my own personal taste, however after our discussion with the artist my imagination began to wander through the paintings and I could see the rocks and the wind and the birds. For him the art making process is not just the paint, it is it the whole experience; the hike; the hunger; the exhaustion; and the cold; as well as the painting that is produced at the end.
Lyrical Abstraction remains on display at the G Art Gallery on the Mezzanine level of the G Hotel Gurney Drive, and is open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
by Lusy Koror, and thank you to Lee Zi Yang for acting as translator