Over the past 50 years, Ivan Wong has examined the forms of our natural and internal worlds in order to distill them to their essence in his painting. Central to his oeuvre is his pursuit to define quality and beauty. In CHROMIUM US 101 his sculptures serve as tokens of a place and its identity while his chrome paintings bear the traces of time through action. It is through these objects that Wong both preserves and advances California’s cultural past.
Ivan Wong currently lives and works in New York City. Born in San Diego, California in 1955 and of hawaiian descent, he graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a degree in painting in 1981. At UCLA he studied with artists George Herms, Laddie John Dill, Vito Acconci and Alexis Smith, and was the bassist in L.A.’s first homegrown ska band, The Boxboys, which is credited with establishing the l.a. ska mod revival in 1979 and 1980. Wong continued to study painting at Columbia University in 1986 before touring as the bassist in bands Little Shining Man and Voodoo X.
A dedicated printmaker, Wong has produced hundreds of books with renowned artists and designers of our time, including Irving Penn, Georgia O’Keeffe, David LaChapelle, Albert Watson, Eiko Ishioka, MADONNA, Simon Doonan and Fabien Baron.
Ivan Wong continues to divide his time between New York and California. He has lived near water his entire life.
WHEN I STARTED WORKING WITH CHROME PIGMENT I WAS IMMEDIATELY DRAWN TO THE MARKS I MADE AND THEIR REACTION TO LIGHT. WITH CHROME PIGMENT I CAN CREATE LINES THAT HAVE THE SAME CHARACTER AS GRAPHITE AND COVERAGE OF OIL PAINT. I PAINT AND DRAW WITH IT AT THE SAME TIME. IT HAS A LUMINESCENT QUALITY THAT CREATES A CHANGE IN TONE AND COLOR AS LIGHT AND THE VIEWER MOVE AROUND THE WORK.
TO CREATE MY CHROME PAINTINGS, I PAINT LAYERS OF PIGMENT DIRECTLY ONTO THE LINEN AND PHOTOCLOTH WITHOUT THE USE OF BRUSHES. THE CHROME DRIES IN SECONDS SO MY GESTURES MUST BE FAST, DELIBERATE AND FINAL. THERE IS NO TIME FOR BLENDING, SO EACH MARK HAS TO BE STRONG ENOUGH TO STAND ON ITS OWN. THE LAYERING OF THESE MARKS FORMS A COHERENT COMPOSITION THAT COMPLETES EACH PAINTING. the chrome paintings were my first investigation into monochromatic works.
THE BOTTOMS OF THE SURFBOARDS DERIVE FROM THE SAME ORIGINAL PAINTING. I PAINTED THE BLUE GRADIENT WITH OIL PAINT ON A RECTANGULAR CANVAS, WHICH WAS THEN PHOTOGRAPHED AND COLOR CORRECTED. THE FINAL PROOF IS PRINTED ON PHOTOCLOTH AND GLASSED ONTO THE BOTTOM OF EACH BOARD. IT WORKS TONALLY WITH THE CHROME DECKS, AND TOGETHER THEY MAKE A STATEMENT.
TO COMPLETE THE Sculptures, I WAS INFLUENCED BY MY HAWAIIAN HERITAGE, THE HISTORY OF CALIFORNIA and greek koURoi statues. I CHOSE TO INCLUDE HAWAIIAN KOA WOOD NOSE AND TAIL BLOCKS, BLACK PINLINES, AND MIKE HYNSON'S ICONIC RED FINS. MY CHROMIUM US 101 LOGO IS BASED ON U.S. HIGHWAY 101 AND IT'S GLASSED ONTO THE BOARDS ALONG WITH HYNSON'S COMPANY LOGO, BOTH OF OUR SIGNATURES, AND A NUMBER as it relates to the series.
- IVAN WONG
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