IVAN WONG: CHROMIUM US 101
AUGUST 13 – SEPTEMBER 25, 2016
PALOS VERDES ART CENTER
ARTIST RECEPTION AUGUST 13, 6 – 9pm
7 pm, TALK BY MICHAEL FALLON, AUTHOR OF
CREATING THE FUTURE: ART AND LOS ANGELES IN THE 1970s
Ivan Wong residency at PVAC, August 8 – 12
Conversations with the artist: 11am – Noon, Tuesday, August 9 and Thursday, August 11
PAUL SMITH LOS ANGELES
ARTIST RECEPTION AUGUST 18, 7 – 9pm
Palos Verdes Art Center, in partnership with DANIELLE and Paul Smith Los Angeles, is pleased to announce CHROMIUM US 101, new paintings and surfboard sculptures by New York-based artist Ivan Wong. Wong’s works represent his experience of California during postwar America and embody the spirit of the region’s cultural identity as exemplified by the Finish Fetish and Light and Space artists of Southern California in the 1960s and ‘70s.
The exhibition will open with an artist reception at Palos Verdes Art Center, August 13, 6 – 9pm, and remain on view through September 25, 2016. A talk by Michael Fallon, author of CREATING THE FUTURE: ART AND LOS ANGELES IN THE 1970s, will be given at 7pm. A joint exhibition featuring Wong’s sculpture will run concurrently at Paul Smith Los Angeles. CHROMIUM US 101 is curated by Joe Baker, Executive Director of PVAC, and Danielle Sweet, founder of DANIELLE.
Through his chromium paintings and surfboard sculptures, Wong recognizes the cultural dichotomy of his youth: a bright landscape of hope and freedom shadowed by the pervasive fear of imminent nuclear war. Made of flake chromium, mica and urethane, his surfaces mimic the shimmering light of the Pacific Ocean, a world of pure presence. The works represent the choice of living in the moment or existing in the past, accepting one world—or none.
Growing up in Southern California in the 1950s and ’60s, Wong was part of the uniquely Californian surf culture that arose through its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and negotiations between mainstream and alternative forces. While Southern California raced to build new defense plants and complete freeway systems for its growing car culture, surfers melded Native Hawaiian cultural influences with state-of-the-art aerospace techniques and materials to establish a new way of life that affirmed the ocean as a source of personal identity and symbolic freedom.
For his sculptures, Wong uses hand-shaped surfboard blanks by iconic surfer and shaper Mike Hynson, a member of the International Surfboard Builder’s Hall of Fame, known for his signature red fins and for appearing in Bruce Brown’s 1966 surf documentary The Endless Summer. Wong’s flake chromium paintings have a luminescent quality that recalls the work of Southern California’s light and space artists, such as Robert Irwin and James Turrell, who experimented with perceptual concerns. Likewise, his use of innovative materials and fabrication processes borrowed from the industrial world comments on the concerns of John McCracken and Billy Al Bengston, artists who were inspired by California’s car culture and landscape to create seamless objects that blurred the line between painting and sculpture, and between handcrafted and industrially produced objects. Through his CHROMIUM US 101 series, Wong transforms memory into a manifestation of the history and energy that forms California’s cachet.
“Ivan Wong’s connecting of street and surf through his art — the way he brings together the concerns of surf culture, of the Finish Fetish, of street and car aesthetics, and the print posters that evoke a once-ubiquitous silkscreen street artifact — is an act of Southern California alchemy. The surfboard sculptures are fascinating for their focus on the beauty of the form and all that it implies — the speed and the power they confer over the elements, the historical and aesthetic traditions of the ocean-based surf cultures, and the ingenuity and spirit of the Southern California’s own particular ecological zone, Surfurbia. The shape of a surfboard of course is instantly recognizable and evocative, an amalgamation of the forms of water and forms of the street. They are beautiful and captivating objects, shaped and crafted by the hands of do-it-by-yourself innovators and inventors.
Ivan’s boards capture the beauty of the ocean and its waves, as well as the slicing shape of a surfer across the dangerous and rugged surface of the ocean. They embody the spirit and collective knowledge of a region that defied national conventions and sought to define their own way of living, and their own methods for building a world-class city. They are, as Reyner Banham suggests, a kind of iconic talisman, a symbol of beauty and strength, of daring and courage, and of the innovative and independent spirit of the city of Los Angeles and its people.” — Michael Fallon