Wong was once asked if the monolith form was like ‘a Chinese puzzle’. Today this analogy or association is still apt for the artist. The images as a whole signalled a search for self-identity the outcome however, remains to be seen.
The beginnings of his ‘surreal’ paintings in the late 1960s were interior ‘mindscapes’ characterised by strange happenings on nonsensical architectural stages. It is in these formative paintings that key metaphors appear, such as in Cloud Machine, 1968, where a whimsical device suggestive of a coffee machine produces an emphatic puffy cloud. The cloud at this stage was fluid in meaning for the artist. Meditative states, actual or yearned for, however, are suggested throughout Wong’s oeuvre through the metaphor of the cloud or luminosity as seen in his later, ‘Transformation’ paintings. These glowing, extraordinary images began in the late 1970s and were a preoccupation for over thirty years. While some evolved from the impact of sensorial phenomena; such as light effects on water or sky, others are more direct evocations of transcendental experience. Wong says;
During the 80’s, church music, particularly that of J.S. Bach – which I listened to while painting – and the practice of meditation, resulted in heightened states of awareness and inner calm. From this time came what I call the ‘light and energy’ works.
Brent Wong is represented widely in public collections:
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, The Dowse Art Museum and the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa, Waikato Art Gallery and Museum, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Rotorua Museum, Tauranga Art Gallery, Hawkes Bay Museum and Art Gallery, Te Manawa Museum of Art, Science and History, Sargeant Gallery, and Anderson Park Gallery.
Works on loan: Victoria University of Wellington and Wairarapa Museum of Art and History