The Burnaby Art Gallery is getting ready to represent a retrospective of the work of master Canadian printmaker Anna Wong.
Anna Wong: Traveller on Two Roads is on at the gallery from Friday, Aug. 31 to Saturday, Nov. 3. An opening reception is set for Thursday, Aug. 30 at 7 p.m.
Wong, who was born and raised in Vancouver’s Chinatown, had an internal career that spanned seven decades before her death in 2013. The Burnaby exhibition will examine Wong’s life between the West Coast of Canada and New York City, as well as extensive travels through China – with more than 70 original artworks, including paintings, hand-pulled prints and large-scale textile pieces.
“Whether Wong was creating work in the city or in her isolated West Coast studio, she was always working with images in stark contrast from her present surroundings: establishing an ‘elsewhere’ through tableaus of fern and maple leaves while living in Manhattan; or through scenes of the Great Wall and Mount Gongga while making art in Vancouver,” explain co-curators Ellen van Eijnsbergen and Jennifer Cane in a press release. “These works represents two parallel journeys of the self, and in this exhibition we have attempted to accompany her on these travels.”
In her youth, Wong worked at her family’s business, Modernize Tailors, a fixture in Vancouver’s Chinatown neighbourhood. As a young adult, she studied Chinese brush painting in Hong Kong, and she graduated from Vancouver School of Art with a degree in creative printmaking. She moved to New York City at age 36 to continue her studies at the Pratt Graphics Center, where she then spent 20 years teaching students.
Despite what the press release describes as a “commendable exhibition record,” Wong has remained virtually unknown to the Vancouver art community. This was in part, as art historian Keith Wallace writes, because she was not “preoccupied with becoming a ‘career’ artist or in working in service of financial benefit.”
In the 1960s, her prints received several international prizes, and she represented Canada in a number of international print biennials. Her work was also featured at the National Art Gallery of China in 1979.
This exhibition, organized by the Burnaby Art Gallery, will travel across Canada over 2019 and 2020.
Accompanying it will be a full-colour hardcover publication in two bilingual editions (English/French and Chinese), with essays from scholars Keith Wallace and Zoe Chan.
The gallery is at 6344 Deer Lake Ave. See www.burnabyartgallery.ca for all the details.
The gallery is planning a number of special events in connection with the exhibition.Among them:
Opening reception: Thursday, Aug. 30, 7 p.m. Free, all welcome. Opening remarks and reception, with refreshments and a chance to preview the special edition hardcover art book that accompanies the exhibition.
Curator’s tour: Sunday, Sept. 9, 2 p.m. Free, all welcome. Join curator Jennifer Cane on an in-depth tour of the exhibition.
In the BAG Family Sundays: Sept. 16 and Oct. 21, 1 to 4 p.m. Free drop-in, all ages welcome. Visit the exhibition and then get into the studio for family-friendly art projects. Sept. 16 is nature prints and Oct. 21 is Chinese brush painting.
Culture Days: Multilingual tours: Saturday, Sept. 29, 1 to 4 p.m. Free, all welcome. Guides will offer English, French, Mandarin and Cantonese tours of the exhibition. For registration and specific times, call 604-297-4422.
Panel discussion – The Art and Life of Anna Wong: Sunday, Sept. 30, 2 p.m. Free, all welcome. Moderated panel includes writers Zoe Chan and Keith Wallace, independent curator Steven Tong and director-curator Ellen van Eijnsbergen.