Lily Wong’s Enigmatic Quest Unveiled

The Lightseeker: The Intersection of Art and Transformation

An Interview with Lily Wong

In a world disrupted by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, artists have had to navigate changes and adapt their practices. Lily Wong, a talented artist known for her intricate figures and surreal environments, found herself exploring new creative territories during these challenging times. Her work took on a new dimension, filling the canvas with vibrant colors and metaphorical force. As we sat down with Wong in her Greenpoint studio, she shared insights into her influences, concerns, and the transformative impact of the past year on her art.

Finding Inspiration in the Cinematic World

Wong’s artistic journey is marked by a deep appreciation for the works of Wong Kar-wai, a renowned filmmaker. While discussing her favorite movies, Wong mentioned classics like “Chungking Express” and “In the Mood for Love.” Wong confessed her fascination with these films, drawing color inspiration from stills found on a dedicated website. However, she humorously expressed feelings of being an outsider to these experiences, acknowledging her detachment from the physical history tied to these movies.

Navigating a Personalized Artistic Approach

The conversation delved into the intricacies of Wong’s unique artistic approach, shaped by personal interests and fantasies rather than a factual representation of reality. She discussed the influence of Muñoz’s essay, “Utopia’s Seating Chart,” emphasizing the value of intuitive connections and interests rather than a linear thought process. Wong embraced a more instinctual conversation with different facets of herself, exploring diverse access points in her work.

The Power of Color and Narrative

Color emerged as a significant element in Wong’s artistic evolution. Reflecting on her transition from black and white to incorporating vibrant colors, Wong spoke of the radiating glow she aimed to embed in her pieces. She described the transformative nature of color, with each hue contributing to the narrative subtleties within an image. Wong’s use of yellow, in particular, sparked intrigue as it carried personal and cultural connotations, evoking uncomfortable emotions yet reinforcing its existence.

The Essence of Asian Art

The conversation expanded to discuss various forms of Asian art, including Japanese woodblock prints, Mughal-illustrated manuscripts, and cave paintings. Wong expressed her fascination with these art forms’ incorporation of folklore, mythology, and pop culture aesthetics. She highlighted the importance of appreciating art beyond the confines of the Western canon, acknowledging the lack of recognition they often face within academic circles.

Navigating In-between Spaces

As the discussion delved into identity and cultural complexities, Wong shared her experiences as an Asian-American artist. She articulated the challenges of addressing trauma while carefully navigating the right amount of disclosure in her art. Wong expressed the discomfort society faces when confronting the existence of multiple truths and resisting the urge to simplify systemic issues.

Engaging with Personal Narratives

Drawing parallels between Wong’s work and Italian Renaissance art, the interview explored the power of narrative in color and figure representation. Wong’s recent works shifted from multiple narratives to more singular ones, prompting introspection about the potential loss within her art. The deliberate use of yellow as a formal and metaphorical tool allowed Wong to explore aspects of her identity while challenging viewers’ comfort zones.

The Multifaceted Self in Motion

The conversation took a introspective turn as Wong contemplated the implications of a fragmented self within her work. Drawing analogies to the motion of a ferris wheel, Wong described her art as a reflection of multiple consciousnesses reorienting simultaneously. She acknowledged the ever-changing nature of her figures, emphasizing the malleability of the human form.

The Process of Creation: Instinctive and Reactive

Both Wong and the interviewer shared their propensity for an instinctive and reactive creative process. Wong revealed that she rarely plans colors ahead of time, preferring to respond to each stroke and layer in the moment. They discussed the importance of taking action even when unsure, recognizing that mistakes often fuel the desire for improvement.

The Transformative Power of Art

In conclusion, Wong reflected on the transformative power of art as an ongoing journey rather than a destination. The interview touched upon the limitations of language and the need to embrace the complexities of personal experiences. Wong urged viewers to immerse themselves in the open-ended worlds she creates, where narrative threads intertwine, leaving room for interpretation and personal reflection. Through her exploration of color, figure, and personal narratives, Wong invites us to embrace the ever-changing nature of our own journeys.


1. What are some key influences on Lily Wong’s art?

Lily Wong draws inspiration from Wong Kar-wai films, Japanese woodblock prints, Mughal-illustrated manuscripts, and pop culture aesthetics from her childhood, among others.

2. What role does color play in Lily Wong’s work?

Color is a vital element in Wong’s artistic evolution. It allows her to embed narrative subtleties and evoke emotions within her pieces. Yellow, in particular, carries personal and cultural connotations, challenging viewers’ comfort zones.

3. How does Lily Wong navigate the complexities of identity in her art?

As an Asian-American artist, Wong confronts the challenge of addressing trauma and personal narratives while avoiding oversimplification. She aims to provide multiple access points for viewers, encouraging them to embrace the complexities of their own identities.

4. What is Wong’s creative process like?

Wong embraces an instinctive and reactive approach to her art. She rarely plans colors ahead of time, allowing herself to respond to each stroke and layer in the moment. This process often leads to surprises and drives her desire for improvement.

5. How does Lily Wong view the transformative power of art?

For Wong, art is an ongoing journey rather than a destination. She believes in embracing the complexities of personal experiences and invites viewers to immerse themselves in the open-ended worlds she creates, where narrative threads intertwine, leaving room for interpretation and personal reflection.