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Martin Wong
Voices, 1971
ink on paper
11 x 8 1/2 in.
27.94 x 21.59 cm

Martin Wong
Voices, 1971
ink on paper
11 x 8 1/2 in.
27.94 x 21.59 cm

P·P·O·W is pleased to announce Voices, Martin Wong’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery. The exhibition runs concurrently with his retrospective Human Instamatic now on view at The Bronx Museum of the Arts until February 14th. Voices concentrates on Wong’s continuous association with language as the source of his artistic practice –echoed in the forms of poetry nurtured by his affiliation with the Nuyorican poets and fueled by Kufic manuscripts, Sanskrit calligraphy, sign language, astronomical constellations and graffiti. The exhibition includes works concentrating on poetry scrolls and including paintings, drawings, ceramics, dog tags dated from 1968 to 1999.

PR 2

Martin Wong’s relationship to writing began at a young age and he self-identified as an aesthete with important literary figures from different generations. Narrating the world of melancholia through his poetry scrolls and self-published books, he built his own language to portray his personal life as a flâneur in California. Wong’s serial process of writing and re-writing created and expanded a linguistic space that he would later introduce into the surface of his paintings and ceramics. After moving to New York City in 1978, Wong’s fascination with language enabled him to build his own vernacular inspired by the overheard vocabularies spoken by gang members, newspaper headlines read by passengers on the trains, bi-lingual cards (English on one side, American Sign Language on the other side) used by the deaf to communicate with others in everyday life and the coded script of Graffiti writers. This exhibition intends to bring to light the overlooked status of Wong’s written work in his complete oeuvre by exploring his inspirations in psychedelia, love, friendship, sexuality and death, and reflects on performing his desire to subjected masculinities (convicts) and anonymous heroes (firemen) in everyday life.

Wong was born in 1946 in Portland, Oregon and was raised in San Francisco, California. He enrolled in Humboldt State University in Arcata, California in 1964 to study ceramics. After his studies ended in 1970, Wong traveled to Herat in Afghanistan to continue his ceramic studies by taking Mosque mosaic workshops. When he returned, he worked as a set designer for the Bay Area-based queer performance troupes The Cockettes and The Angels of Light from 1971 to 1973. Wong dubbed himself the “Human Instamatic” in 1975, quickly sketching portraits and selling them for a few dollars in Eureka, before he decided to move to New York City in 1978.

Wong died in San Francisco from an AIDS related illness in 1999. His work can be found in museum collections including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, de Young Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, Whitney Museum of American Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and The Cleveland Museum of Art. He had a one person show Sweet Oblivion at the New Museum in 1998. In 2013 the exhibition City as Canvas: New York City Graffiti from the Martin Wong Collection, organized by Carlo McCormick and Sean Corcoran, opened at the Museum of the City of New York.

Exhibited Works

Exhibited Works Thumbnails
Martin Wong, Weatherby's, 1974

Martin Wong
Weatherby's, 1974
signed on back of frame
acrylic on canvas
21 x 35 x 3/4 in.
53.34 x 88.9 x 1.91 cm

Martin Wong, Ted's Deli (Hayes and Masonic, San Francisco), Sept. 1976--June 1977

Martin Wong
Ted's Deli (Hayes and Masonic, San Francisco), Sept. 1976--June 1977
verso in pencil on stretcher bar "Ted's Deli, Hayes and Masonic San Francisco," "Started Sept. 76 - Finished June 77"
oil on canvas
16 1/4 x 20 1/4 x 1 1/2 in.
41.28 x 51.44 x 3.81 cm

Martin Wong, Portrait of Tom Mueller, 1975

Martin Wong
Portrait of Tom Mueller, 1975
signed on front
acrylic on canvas
29 x 41 x 1 3/4 in.
73.66 x 104.14 x 4.45 cm

Martin Wong, Das Puke Book, Chapter 11: Scarry Night, 1970

Martin Wong
Das Puke Book, Chapter 11: Scarry Night, 1970
ink on vellum
39 7/8 x 10 7/8 in.
101.28 x 27.62 cm

Martin Wong, Crystal Daggar, 1978

Martin Wong
Crystal Daggar, 1978
ink and acrylic on paper bag
34 3/4 x 9 7/8 in.
88.27 x 25.8 cm

Martin Wong, Firefly Evening, 1968

Martin Wong
Firefly Evening, 1968
ink on paper scroll
83 x 15 1/8 in.
210.82 x 38.42 cm

Martin Wong, Untitled (Car Interior) - Eureka, 1977

Martin Wong
Untitled (Car Interior) - Eureka, 1977
signed top left
graphite on paper
14 1/4 x 14 1/2 x 3/4 in.
36.2 x 36.83 x 1.91 cm

Martin Wong, Pete's Supermarket Liquors, 1977

Martin Wong
Pete's Supermarket Liquors, 1977
signed M.W. 1977
graphite on paper
14 1/4 x 17 1/2 x 3/4 in.
36.2 x 44.45 x 1.91 cm

Martin Wong, Sabrina Pizza House, 1976

Martin Wong
Sabrina Pizza House, 1976
unsigned
graphite on paper
14 1/4 x 17 1/2 x 3/4 in.
36.2 x 44.45 x 1.91 cm

Martin Wong, Untitled (MW Was Here January 23 1970), 1970

Martin Wong
Untitled (MW Was Here January 23 1970), 1970
stoneware
16 x 7 x 12 in.
40.64 x 17.78 x 30.48 cm

Martin Wong, Untitled (Coyote), 1969

Martin Wong
Untitled (Coyote), 1969
ceramic
17 x 6 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.
43.18 x 15.88 x 21.59 cm

Martin Wong, Untitled ("Once upon a jewel in the left eye of Cassiopeia..."), October 1969

Martin Wong
Untitled ("Once upon a jewel in the left eye of Cassiopeia..."), October 1969
ceramic
12 x 7 1/4 x 6 1/2 in.
30.48 x 18.42 x 16.51 cm

Martin Wong, Weatherby's, 1974

Martin Wong
Weatherby's, 1974
signed on back of frame
acrylic on canvas
21 x 35 x 3/4 in.
53.34 x 88.9 x 1.91 cm

Martin Wong, Ted's Deli (Hayes and Masonic, San Francisco), Sept. 1976--June 1977

Martin Wong
Ted's Deli (Hayes and Masonic, San Francisco), Sept. 1976--June 1977
verso in pencil on stretcher bar "Ted's Deli, Hayes and Masonic San Francisco," "Started Sept. 76 - Finished June 77"
oil on canvas
16 1/4 x 20 1/4 x 1 1/2 in.
41.28 x 51.44 x 3.81 cm

Martin Wong, Portrait of Tom Mueller, 1975

Martin Wong
Portrait of Tom Mueller, 1975
signed on front
acrylic on canvas
29 x 41 x 1 3/4 in.
73.66 x 104.14 x 4.45 cm

Martin Wong, Das Puke Book, Chapter 11: Scarry Night, 1970

Martin Wong
Das Puke Book, Chapter 11: Scarry Night, 1970
ink on vellum
39 7/8 x 10 7/8 in.
101.28 x 27.62 cm

Martin Wong, Crystal Daggar, 1978

Martin Wong
Crystal Daggar, 1978
ink and acrylic on paper bag
34 3/4 x 9 7/8 in.
88.27 x 25.8 cm

Martin Wong, Firefly Evening, 1968

Martin Wong
Firefly Evening, 1968
ink on paper scroll
83 x 15 1/8 in.
210.82 x 38.42 cm

Martin Wong, Untitled (Car Interior) - Eureka, 1977

Martin Wong
Untitled (Car Interior) - Eureka, 1977
signed top left
graphite on paper
14 1/4 x 14 1/2 x 3/4 in.
36.2 x 36.83 x 1.91 cm

Martin Wong, Pete's Supermarket Liquors, 1977

Martin Wong
Pete's Supermarket Liquors, 1977
signed M.W. 1977
graphite on paper
14 1/4 x 17 1/2 x 3/4 in.
36.2 x 44.45 x 1.91 cm

Martin Wong, Sabrina Pizza House, 1976

Martin Wong
Sabrina Pizza House, 1976
unsigned
graphite on paper
14 1/4 x 17 1/2 x 3/4 in.
36.2 x 44.45 x 1.91 cm

Martin Wong, Untitled (MW Was Here January 23 1970), 1970

Martin Wong
Untitled (MW Was Here January 23 1970), 1970
stoneware
16 x 7 x 12 in.
40.64 x 17.78 x 30.48 cm

Martin Wong, Untitled (Coyote), 1969

Martin Wong
Untitled (Coyote), 1969
ceramic
17 x 6 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.
43.18 x 15.88 x 21.59 cm

Martin Wong, Untitled ("Once upon a jewel in the left eye of Cassiopeia..."), October 1969

Martin Wong
Untitled ("Once upon a jewel in the left eye of Cassiopeia..."), October 1969
ceramic
12 x 7 1/4 x 6 1/2 in.
30.48 x 18.42 x 16.51 cm

Installation Views

Installation Views Thumbnails
Voices, install 7
Voices, install 6
Voices, install 5
Voices, install 8
Voices, install 9
Voices, install 4
Voices, install 1
Voices, install 2
Voices, install 3
Voices, install 7
Voices, install 6
Voices, install 5
Voices, install 8
Voices, install 9
Voices, install 4
Voices, install 1
Voices, install 2
Voices, install 3