Published by Rizzoli, New York and The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, 1998, 96 pages (colour & b/w ill.), 24.7 × 25.4 cm, EnglishPrice: €78
The visionary paintings of Martin Wong, one of the unsung geniuses of New York’s East Village art scene of the 1980s, are collected here and examined in depth for the first time. Entirely self-taught, Wong created intricate compositions that combine gritty social documents, cosmic witticisms, and highly charged symbolic languages-customised manual alphabets for the deaf, street graffiti, Nuyorican poetry, hand-lettered signs, meticulously rendered brick facades, rearrangements of Zodiac signs-sometimes within a single painting.
The urban landscape of Loisaida, the Hispanic section of the Lower East Side where Wong lived, is the source of his imagery. Whatever the theme-the survival of a neighbourhood besieged by drugs and crime, homoerotic fantasies of men in uniform, the multiplicity of meaning in language, the kitsch and ornamentation of Chinatown USA-Wong’s work is visually startling and movingly autobiographical.