Paul Wong

"Looking back in hindsight at the body of work, it’s all been a search for identity… seeing that whatever was out there didn’t reflect who I was… because I had two languages, because I didn’t want to have traditional values… because I wanted to feel things and see things in a different way. "

- Paul Wong, 1994

One of Canada’s leading video artists, Paul Wong is also known for his live audience and performance installations, photography, written texts, and public art projects. His work is characterized by a raw energy and frequent shock value. Dealing with themes of the immigrant identity, the power of the media, memory and death, Wong questions contemporary ideals of beauty and sexuality. The artist incorporates contemporary music as a vital element in his work.

Self-taught, Paul Wong began working as an artist in his teens. Influenced by Marxist and feminist ideologies, he found inspiration in the works of artists Lisa Steele, Shirley Clarke, Robert Smithson, Chris Burden, as well as Andy Warhol and Pierre Falardeau. As part of the Vancouver Mainstreet artists’ movement of the 1970s and 1980s, Wong experimented in multi-media art, including body art. His early work, such as Confused/Sexual Views, was characterized by an anarchistic attitude. More recently, work such as Chinaman’s Peak: Walking the Mountain, has become quieter and more organic, reflecting a desire for reconciliation.

Paul Wong is active as a cultural critic, community activist, arts administrator and curator. He is the co-founding director of Video In and On Edge Production, a Vancouver-based video production and distribution centre. He is a recipient of the Governor General’s Award and the Canada Council’s Bell Canada Award in Video Art.

Photo: Martin Lipman

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