Tuesday, October 22, 2019

RIP Matthew Wong

Matthew Wong was a self-taught Canadian painter who died of suicide at 35. He suffered throughout his life from depression and Tourette's syndrome, and his mother says he was on the Autism spectrum. Above, The Realm of Appearances (2019)

Wong killed himself less than a year after his first major solo show made him an art world success.  Winter's End, 2019.

His mother says that he once told her, "I’m fighting with the Devil every single day, every waking moment of my life." Starlight, 2019.

Figure in a Night Landscape, 2017. The critics who admired Wong's art picked up on its sadness; one called these "tinged with melancholy."  Do the tiny figures and houses in these paintings represent the Artist's soul, lost in a vast world beyond his understanding?

Winter Nocturne, 2017. The tortured artist is not just a fable; artists really do have a much higher rate of severe mental illness than the rest of us. We have so far to go before we can ease the suffering of so many people, so much to learn before we can understand the tangled skein of pain and wonder that gives birth to art like this.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

This is a tangent, but...

...what's the point of saying "died of suicide" instead of "committed suicide", and then literally two sentences later saying he "killed himself"?

What exactly is the logic at work here?

It's ostensibly bad to use "commit" because supposedly that suggests a negative connotation due to a tenuous connection to "comitting a crime"...

...but then apparently it's okay to say someone "killed" themself, totally un-connoted in the most literal and direct meaning possible? In what demented universe is the verb "kill" less offensive than "commit"?

Examining my thoughts more deeply, I do think maybe this particular sort of thing wouldn't bug me so much if the choice of replacement wasn't so nonsensical.

If "commit" is out of bounds because it ostensibly has come to be associated with criminality, then why not just use any of the close synonyms which have more firmly neutral connotations? Enact suicide? Effect suicide? Perform suicide? Induce suicide? Utilize suicide? Conduct suicide? Administer suicide? Engage suicide? Commence suicide? Et cetera. Are none of those suitable or satisfactory?

"Died of suicide" feels needlessly euphemistic. Worse, it suffers from the same problem it ostensibly seeks to correct, just in a different direction - it has a notable connotation of accidentality. How is that meaningfully different than a connotation of criminality? Both are potentially misleading in ways that something like "enacted suicide" is not. What point is there in a change that doesn't actually fix anything?