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The Chinese Community in Montréal: Andong Wang

26 mai 2021

Andong Wang explores the ways in which drawing and painting can serve as vectors for expression. Built up through vigorous brushwork and subtle lines, his works combine analytic rigor and intuition, reflecting a rich inner world.

As part of the exhibition Dialogue with Montréal’s Chinese Community, the MEM met with members of the Chinese community in Montréal. This is Andong Wang’s story.

For nearly fifty years, Andong Wang has been exploring the expressive potential of drawing and painting. His works blend technique and intuition, East and West, vigorous brushwork and subtle lines, opening the way to new experiences and reflecting a rich inner world.

An innate talent

Andong Wang

Photo couleur d’un artiste tenant un pinceau dans une main et l'autre main appuyée sur une table dans son atelier.
Photograph: Jennifer Li. MEM – Centre des mémoires montréalaises.
Born with a love of drawing, Andong started out as a self-taught artist. In school, he would draw during class and sketch portraits of his friends. It was only in 1980, once the Cultural Revolution had come to an end and merit-based college entrance exams had been reinstated, that he was able to enter the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. After completing a four-year fine arts program, he worked as an art editor at the Guangdong Science and Technology Press. The year 1991 was a turning point for him, marked by his enrollment as the only Chinese international student in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University, with a specialization in print media. The two-year experience was an artistic leap for him, allowing him to gain a deeper understanding of Western art movements and techniques, and to incorporate these into his traditional practice. He also explored Inuit printmaking, an art form rich in symbolism that he had first encountered during his studies in China.

New directions

The crisis of the artist’s studio

Toile du peintre Andong Wang.
Andong Wang’s personal collection.
Andong has always been attracted to portraiture and figuration. Inspired by Neo-realism, he goes beyond representation to consider the vast palette of human emotions. Andong introduces a different gaze on his subjects, departing from traditional practices and steering clear of aestheticism. “Art is a language,” he says. “A painter’s work is not only an expression of beauty, but also of his vision of society.” For Andang, beauty lies in “simplicity, movement, mystery, abstraction, and the grotesque.” His colour combinations and unconventional themes evoke the tensions between the cultural movements that have marked human history. Intriguing and riddled with references, Wang’s meticulous compositions carry a powerful emotional charge that draws in the viewer. 

Redefining Chinese art

The great empire’s spirit

Toile du peintre Andong Wang.
Andong Wang’s personal collection.
Over the course of his career, Andong has had numerous exhibitions in Montréal and in China. An active promoter of Chinese art, he believes that some Chinese diaspora artists would benefit from greater support from the community. To this end, Andong founded the Chinese Visual Arts Research Society of Montréal, dedicated to the promotion and preservation of this art. His greatest wish is to open a museum that would allow the Chinese community to organize exhibitions and cultural events on a regular basis. He would also like to see Chinese art move beyond the constraints of tradition and evolve within the current context. “We need to stop relying on traditional aesthetic methods,” says Andong. “Making art requires a solid foundation, but also innovation, an open mind, and the development of an individual style. I want emerging Chinese artists to be able to learn and make their mark as contemporary artists.”

A studio in Chinatown

Andong Wang

Colour photograph of an artist in his studio, holding a paintbrush and palette.
Photograph: Jennifer Li. MEM – Centre des mémoires montréalaises.
The Andong Studio Gallery opened its doors in Chinatown in 2014. It has since become a place of cultural exchange that invites both young and old to discover Chinese art. Andong exhibits and sells the work of emerging Chinese artists, teaches drawing classes, and hosts talks and workshops by established artists. He regards the gallery as the culmination of his career. “It is important to have a Chinese artist creating and preserving art in Chinatown,” he says. “These works reflect our community and the place we call home. I want Chinatown to be not just a tourist destination, but rather a thriving place that stands out for its art and culture.”



「我一出生就热爱绘画。我很小的时候就学会了自己画画。直到1980年,文化大革命结束并恢复了国家高考后,我才有机会进入广州美术学院接受了为期四年的艺术培训。从那时起,我开始欣赏加拿大因纽特人的平版印刷术 。 1991年,我以国际留学生的身份进入了康考迪亚大学美术研究院主修雕刻。当时,雕刻系只有六名国际学生,而我是这个极具竞争性课程中唯一来自中国的学生。 」-王安东

La traduction en chinois simplifié a été faite par Serena Xiong (熊吟) et révisé par Philippe Liu (刘秦宁).



「我一出生就熱愛繪畫。我很小的時候就學會了自己畫畫。直到1980年,文化大革命結束並恢復了國家高考後,我才有機會進入廣州美術學院接受了為期四年的藝術培訓。從那時起,我開始欣賞加拿大因紐特人的平版印刷術 。 1991年,我以國際留學生的身份進入了康考迪亞大學美術研究院主修雕刻。當時,雕刻系只有六名國際學生,而我是這個極具競爭性課程中唯一來自中國的學生。 」-王安東

Traductrice : Wai Yin Kwok.