Fri 11 Nov
7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
The exhibition continues until December 23
Cleveland-based artist Jordan Wong (aka WONGFACE) presents a series of new and recent works that bring together and hybridize both the artist’s cultural background and the myriad influences of his childhood, from video games to music. anime, to build a new expressive and dynamic visual. Language. The title of the exhibition Continue? 10, 9, 8… (borrowed from video game prompts) is in itself a bold statement of anticipatory enthusiasm that emerges thematically in the emphatic and daring designs that make up Wong’s various works.
Wong’s profession as a graphic designer also informs his weaving of distinct symbol, iconography and typography through works that can be direct and concise or maniacally detailed in expression. Time and time again, Wong’s works affirm a sense of affirmation. They are imbued with possibility and exude positive energy, amplified by Wong’s energetic and graphic stylizations. In a pair of light sculptures, Wong takes the oft-used – let’s say ubiquitous – yin-yang symbol and refashions it as an exuberant piece of signage framed and newly defined by the phrase SUPER CULTURE. It transports the symbol of the cliché and brings it back to a signifier of Chinese-American ethnicity, culture and identity. At the same time, this act of cultural reclamation is not ethnically exclusive – in Wong’s dynamic rendering there is also the idea that ALL are welcome within the SUPER CULTURE.
Large die-cut wooden reliefs feature his “small but mighty” little hero – a caped protagonist based on Kintaro’s version of Kimiaki Taegashi – and Kaiju XS (Green Edition), a stocky take on a creature Godzilla. The former is heroic and ready for action while the latter, while visually adorable, still contains a tone of potential threat. It’s as if Wong recognizes threats while always being ready for action.
Wong’s work – replicating cartoon and animation styles – moves seamlessly between those in bright color and those in graphic black and white. Choose Your Character is a dynamic monolithic sculpt that offers the viewer the choice of a multitude of avatar characters to serve in their stead, a reiteration that character choice is not just a video game trope but a real life storyline in which we have to select our most suitable path. In contrast, in three works in collaboration with Karl Anderson, illustrative and graphic elements are mixed with typographic forms in a play on words and reconstructed phrases: Mind Over Matter, Eureka and Man, each a symbolically rich terrain of possibilities.
In the largest work in the exhibition, Manga, the visual style of Japanese comics is used to abstractly portray an imaginative tale about finding belonging, overcoming bigotry and empowerment. The narrative presented is oblique, as if torn from the middle of a larger narrative, but abounds with dynamic images that provide a determined sense of self, articulating an identity that arises when circumstances challenge. Surrounded by action-packed panels, the center of the great work features our protagonist shouting OPEN astride a gigantic turtle, a symbol of longevity, power and tenacity.