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Item Name: Painting
Title: KU
Maker: Janice Wong
Year: 1992
Country: Canadian
Materials: oil on joss on rives paper
Measurements: work: 14 cm x 11.8 cm
ID Number: ART 103
Legal Status: ART RENTAL

Extended Label Info: This painting is one in a series that Janice Wong created using found objects as subject matter. She collected leaves and flowers, pottery shards, and wishbones at two sites that had personal significance to her family: the Lake district near Prince Albert, and the original “Chinatown” community in Nanaimo, BC. She then painted these objects in still-life compositions, using a thickly painted or impasto brushstroke, creating highly abstract images. One series was on aromatic cedar, and the other on “Joss”, a type of paper traditionally used in Buddhist rituals to honour ancestors. Visually, the images are very sketchy and loose. In the Joss series, the bright orange of the paper shines through, giving colourful highlights between the brushstrokes. In an interview for the Alberta University of the Arts, Wong described her artwork as less about subject matter, and more about visual elements. Similar to music, her compositions have “multiple layers that convey a distilled and resonant balance.” It is interesting to speculate on the meaning of the title, “KU”. The romanization of the Chinese character “苦” (pronounced “ku” in Mandarin), is one possibility. Its meaning is bitter (flavour), painful, difficult, or suffer. Mandarin is, however, a tonal language, and thus a tone mark is necessary in order to be certain of the exact word and meaning the title is referring to. Janice Wong was born in Saskatchewan and studied Fine Arts at the University of Saskatchewan. She earned her Honours Diploma in Painting (1980) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Distinction (1996) from the Alberta College of Art and Design (now the Alberta University of the Arts), in Calgary. Since 1990, she has been working full time in the studio, and teaches drawing, painting, and printmaking. Wong has received numerous grants and awards, and her artwork is held in several public, corporate, and private collections in Canada, Europe, Asia, and the US, including: the Canada Council Art Bank, Province of British Columbia, Richmond Art Gallery, University of Saskatchewan, and the National Bank, Canada.