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“Winter Water”

julian Wong


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“Winter Water”

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The series, began as a challenge from my poet/writer friend (Glen Mannisto), to create 6 paintings in 6 months from the vantage point of view of a River Front Tower’s penthouse in Detroit. Because of this unique opportunity, I was able to use the condo as a studio for a year to study and create this completely new, and for me, unique body of work. Observing the river and the city from a higher vantage point was captivating. I realized immediately, that the beauty and light of the natural sky without any obstructing buildings, was constantly changing, evolving from minute to minute. The horizon line became a fixed bench mark and for the first time it made sense to use it as an anchor and to explore abstraction. Like Chinese characters which originated from pictorial images, and which I grew up with, my paintings evolved into a new language for me. Delineating the landscape I observed a simpler geometry; my color palette was not a direct observation of the scenery but an interpretation of the feeling it induced, from looking at the subject. Moreover there is the uneasy tension between the river and the industrial complex along the river so the series became an exploration of that tension between the natural and industrial landscape.Seeing the winter near the river, the floating ice amass against each other and smash against the pier. The freezing wind cuts through the thickest garment. There is a violence to the river in winter. I wanted to capture that brutality.

48"H × 36"W × 1.5"D
Acrylic on board.


I create art that reflects and comments on the world around me. The immediacy of the mediums of watercolor and acrylic appeal to the gestural nature of my process and, in the tradition of Chinese calligraphy, I employ the elemental process of brush on paper or canvas, both small and large, for its rapid translation. My subjects and inspirations are from my immediate surroundings. The simple process: I gather the medium and use it as visual references. These subjects are props for creating a harmonic score of a world of my own imagining, perhaps suggesting the abstract expressionist tradition. Currently, I am working on a set of large abstract landscapes based on, for me, the newly discovered Detroit Riverfront. Integrating industrial structures—antique factory sites, obsolete machinery -- into the rapidly changing, watery atmosphere and topographic contours, allows for an exploration and new experience of color and gesture.

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