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Andrew Tong: So It Goes

Elliott Louis Gallery
Vancouver BC – Apr 7-25, 2009

Andrew Tong, Prisoner of War

Andrew Tong, Prisoner of War, oil on panel [Elliott Louis Gallery, Vancouver BC, Apr 7-25]

Andrew Tong, Billy Goes To War

Andrew Tong, Billy Goes To War (2009), oil on canvas, detail [Elliott Louis Gallery, Vancouver BC, Apr 7-25]

Andrew Tong, Our Day Out

Andrew Tong, Our Day Out (2008), oil on panel [Elliott Louis Gallery, Vancouver BC, Apr 7-25]

Andrew Tong is a British-born and schooled artist whose surreal images simultaneously project innocence and horror. With children in the foreground of the majority of his paintings, Tong delivers suspenseful narratives of war. As he puts it, “The central characters in this body of work face hostility and desensitization on a journey where the destination is increasingly uncertain.”

Many of the dream-like scenes are filled with child-like drawings, scribbles and splashed paint. Tong draws heavily on his personal history for the antique feeling they convey. Both parents were active in WWII – his mother at a munitions factory and his father as an anti-aircraft gunner in the British Navy. Old-fashioned gas masks, toy soldiers, rockets, burning cars and weaponry figure prominently. They signal the end of innocence and an immersion in an apocalyptic future.

The title So It Goes, a reference to Kurt Vonnegut’s book Slaughterhouse Five, is intended to summon a sense of fatalism. Some of Tong's adult characters were inspired by people on the wrong side of the law, or infamous for their "careers", and some were known personally to the artist (including family members). At the same time, the images have elements of hope and even humour. Painting with oil on canvas or panel in a meticulous style, Tong suggests that we might just arrive at our destination safely.


Mia Johnson

 Tue, Apr 14, 2009