Malicious Mischief - Camden Art Centre

Camden Art Centre is proud to present the European exhibition of the work of Chinese-American artist Martin Wong (born 1946 in Portland, Oregon, died 1999 in San Francisco).

Martin Wong is widely recognised for his extraordinary depictions of social, sexual and political scenographies from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Weaving together narratives of queer existence, marginal communities, and urban gentrification, Wong stands out as an important countercultural voice at odds with the art establishment’s reactionary discourse at the time.

Heavily influenced by his immediate surroundings, Wong’s practice merges the visual languages of Chinese iconography, urban poetry, graffiti, carceral aesthetics, and sign language as well as drawing heavily on the Latin American community he became so closely involved with. His work offers an important insight into a decisive period of recent American history, as told through its changing urban landscapes and unfolding hidden desires.

Martin Wong: Malicious Mischief presents a survey of over 100 of the artist’s works. It encompasses early paintings and sculptures made in the euphoric environments of San Francisco and Eureka, California, in the late 1960s and early 1970s; Wong’s iconic 1980s and 1990s paintings, made during his time in a dilapidated New York City; as well as his reminiscences on the imagery of the East and West Coast Chinatowns, made prior to his premature death from an AIDS/ HIV-related illness.

Images The Artist Artist Film Supporters

The Artist

Martin Wong (1946–1999) was born in Portland, Oregon, and raised in San Francisco, California. He studied ceramics at Humboldt State University, graduating in 1968. Wong was active in the performance art groups The Cockettes and Angels of Light Free Theater before moving to New York in 1978. He exhibited for two decades at notable downtown galleries including EXIT ART, Semaphore, and P·P·O·W, among others, before his death in San Francisco from an AIDS-related illness. His work is represented in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art; The Bronx Museum of the Arts; Whitney Museum of American Art (all New York); as well as Cleveland Museum of Art; Art Institute of Chicago; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others. The exhibition Martin Wong: Human Instamatic opened at the Bronx Museum of The Arts in November 2015, before travelling to the Wexner Center for the Arts in 2016
and the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in 2017.

Curators Krist Gruijthuijsen and Agustin Perez Rubio discuss Martin Wong, 'Malicious Mischief' at Camden Art Centre, 2023. This film has been produced by Jared Schiller for Camden Art Centre on the occasion of Martin Wong, 'Malicious Mischief', 16 June - 17 September 2023.

Supported by