black-and-white portrait of artist Anita Wong, wearing a black leather jacket, drawing her paintbrush across paper

At just 5 years old Anita Wong started learning the Lingnan style of Chinese painting, continuing a generations-old family tradition. After studying with a master painter for more than 10 years, Wong moved to London to attend Central Saint Martins after graduating from Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Later she received an MFA and MA from Maryland Institute College of Art, where she was a teaching assistant.

Despite all her studies, Wong admits to being lost as an artist for a long time. Trained as a traditionalist, she found herself following a lot of rules. “I didn’t know how to break them, and I didn’t want to give up on traditional art just because the world had already moved on to contemporary art. I didn’t want to blindly follow any trend or to create art for the wrong reason,” she explains.

Art by Anita Wong

‘Preserved’ (3-D Chinese painting with pressed dried flowers framed in a shadow­box). “This is inspired by a squirrel and flowers grown in my backyard,” says Wong.

Art by Anita Wong

‘Preserved’ (3-D Chinese painting inspired by peonies and finches).

Soon Wong noticed her art was changing, as moves to different cities exposed her to new people, stories, and art. “Visually, it evolved from being really traditional to something I’m comfortable with—a mix and a collection of my memories and events,” says Wong. “Many say my style is expressive brush work, Chinese Impressionism, but I am trying to stay away from these labels and letting my art evolve with my age, feelings, and experience.”

‘Blue’ painting

‘Blue’ (sun print of original bird painting). “I placed real flowers on top of photography paper during sun exposure,” says Wong.

Regardless of the label, we find her art expressive, engaging, and unique—embracing the past with a studied eye on the here and now.

More at anitayanwong.com; Instagram: @anitayanwong 


By Alice Welsh Doyle

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