This spring, discover the exuberant, colorful, and mystical work of Matthew Wong at the Van Gogh Museum. This is the first time that Wong’s highly personal oeuvre will be on display in Europe in an exhibition of this size. The retrospective exhibition Matthew Wong| Vincent van Gogh: Painting as a Last Resort shows the artist’s unique work, well-known and highly regarded throughout the world, in the context of his artistic and personal connection with Van Gogh, whom he saw as one of his most significant sources of inspiration.

The style of the Chinese-Canadian artist Matthew Wong (1984–2019) can best be described as dynamic, colorful, and expressive. His lush landscapes exude melancholy. After studying photography, Wong quickly taught himself to paint and was inspired by both European-American and Chinese painting and drawing. Owing to his rapid development, Wong changed painting styles with striking frequency. During short periods, he looked to the works of various artists, including Klimt and Matisse It was, however, Vincent van Gogh who played a major role throughout Wong’s entire eight-year career as an artist. In a 2018 interview, Wong named Van Gogh as one of his most important sources of inspiration. Van Gogh’s influence is unmistakable in terms of use of color, the thickly applied brushwork, and the personal themes in Wong’s work. Loneliness, isolation, and melancholy marked Wong’s life, and are subjects that were channelled through his work. The artist Jonas Wood, another significant example for Wong and a close friend of the artist, even called Wong the modern-day Van Gogh’.

Throughout his life, Wong identified not only with Van Gogh’s art, but also his life story. I see myself in him. The impossibility of belonging in this world’s, said Wong in 2018. Both artists had a lengthy search to find their calling in life, which they ultimately found in painting. Wong saw it as his last resort’. Both Wong and Van Gogh struggled with mental health problems, which resulted in both artists tragic, untimely deaths. Unlike Van Gogh, Wong’s talent was more widely recognized during his short and tempestuous career. Barely five years after he made his first work, a renowned museum acquired a painting by Wong, and many notable collectors followed suit. In 2019, The New York Times lauded him as ‘one of the most talented painters of his generation* Joost van der Hoeven, curator of the exhibition Matthew Wong | Vincent van Gogh: Painting as a Last Resort: “I see a sincerity, a conviction and total commitment in Wong’s work that you also see with Van Gogh. They are unparalleled in their ability to combine emotional depth with a highly accessible visual language. When I saw Wong’s work for the first time, it gripped me instantly, and I saw in it a whole range of art historical references. And yet it remains completely original and contemporary. I am fascinated by this tension between recognition and originality, and that is what inspired me to make this exhibition’

The exhibition shows the highly personal and emotionally charged oeuvre of Matthew Wong, and illuminates his connection to Van Gogh. Matthew Wong | Vincent van Gogh: Painting as a Last Resort is the first retrospective of Wong’s work in Europe, and is on display at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam from 1 March to 1 September 2024. Tickets for the museum can be booked in advance on the Van Gogh Museum website.