New York

Martin Wong

Exit Art

So often have the discarded, lowly, kitsch, and despised artifacts of our daily lives been dredged up by artists to shock, disturb, amuse, or contradict our sensibilities that it’s easy to forget a rarer spirit of esthetic and political passion that is wholly unlike the prominent strategies of camp, transgressive, or political art. In the flood of media-fried pop, politicized urban expression, and confrontational excess that was rapidly consumed in New York at the outset of this decade under the moniker of East Village art, it was maybe inevitable that the delicacies of a few artists, such as Martin Wong, would be lost. There is in Wong’s paintings a level of vaguely discernible ambiguity that lends his work quite readily to misunderstanding. Laced internally with a pathology of sensual ambivalence, his obsessively rendered studies of real-life characters and places are secret vehicles of

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