new-york

Martin Wong

P.P.O.W Gallery

Martin Wong’s paintings of New York’s downtown dystopia have occasionally materialized in exhibitions rounding up the East Village scene of the 1980s, but such a diverse group of his works as was seen in this exhibition had not been assembled since his retrospective at the New Museum in New York in 1998, one year before his death of aids. Curated by artist Adam Putnam, P.P.O.W Gallery’s miniretrospective combined Wong’s iconic early cityscapes and mysterious paintings of pudgy hands rendering sign language with lesser-known later photo-collages of the decayed Lower East Side and paintings on astrological and botanical subjects. Wong doesn’t dazzle with technique (he was a self-taught painter), and he may have been less imaginative in his symbolism than peers such as David Wojnarowicz, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, or Kiki Smith, but his gritty yet quixotic cosmos of toughs with leering eyes and

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