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  • Writer's pictureBeyond the Canvas

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

I'm one day late due to work commitments, but I very much wanted to mark this occasion by showcasing a painting by Martin Wong (1946-1999) that has been haunting me ever since I saw it at the excellent 'Malicious Mischief' exhibition at the Camden Art Centre last year. There is something incredibly intimate and poignant about this picture where Wong depicts his parents smiling hopefully behind their laundry's door. The painting oozes a palpable affection for his hard-working immigrant family and a definite pride for his heritage.

Wong, whose work set a new auction record earlier this week, was an openly gay mixed-race man. His almost obsessive depictions of brick walls symbolises the resilient spirit of the marginalised communities he painted. He infused these brick walls with personal and cultural symbols, including graffiti, signs, and hand gestures, transforming ordinary urban facades into profound statements about identity, sexuality and social justice.

In 1994, after being diagnoses with HIV, Wong returned to San Francisco to his parents’ home where he continued to paint up to the day of his death from AIDS-related complications five years later.

Martin Wong

Chinese Laundry: A Portrait of the Artist’s Parents, 1984

© Martin Wong Foundation

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